Friday, March 29, 2013

Central Park Allergens: Tree Pollen

Millions of tourists visit Central Park each year to see the sights, but for local New Yorkers Central Park is considered one of the top places to escape the hustle bustle of the city. Central Park is an oasis in the concrete jungle, a place to recharge from our crazy lives, a place to BREATH! 

However, as springtime comes, some of us find it hard to breath in Central Park, as the trees, weeds and flowers begin to bloom.

Central Park is the flor and fauna capital of Manhattan, and many allergy sufferers become conflicted between the beauty of her nature and the effect it has on our allergies. 

As a New York City Adult and Pediatric Allergy and Asthma practice, we want to help our fellow New Yorkers identify some of the common Central Park trees and plants that can be tough on allergies.

Oak Trees: Few trees are as “strong as an oak” and this strength is carried throughout their pollen. There are approximately 600 different species of oak across planet earth and there are about 5 different species that live in Central Park.  To pollinate, oak trees produce catkins, which are slender dense clusters of petal-less flowers. These catkins develop prior to the leaves, and aid in the pollination process, but they make a mess as they float about the air. You can find some gigantic Spanish Oak and Northern Red Oak near the Great Lawn.

Cypress Trees: These beautiful trees have been causing humans allergies since before Central Park, and even the ancients Greeks had allergies to the Mediterranean Cypress Trees.  Cypress pollens can cause a “green pollution” when their pollen is released, and this could be the stuff you see floating atop the Harlem Meer. Two types of Cypress in Central Park are the Common Bald Cypress and Swamp Cypress.

Maple Trees: While maple trees are the source of delicious maple syrup, they are also the parents of some of the most allergenic pollen. These pollens regularly trigger asthma so if you are asthmatic, it is wise to keep your distance.  There are some beautiful Red Maples in Central Park, especially near the Mall At Bandshell.

Grass: No list would be complete without mentioning one of the most commonly known allergy-inducing culprits, grass. There are many types of grasses in Central Park and they can all have different affects on people. When in the park, it is normal to sit and play in the grass and this direct skin contact allows for the blades and their microscopic barbs to irritate your skin. This is a tough one to avoid, but wearing long sleeves can prevent direct contact, and a quick shower can also help relieve the itching.

If you find your self itching and sneezing when you walk through the park, chances are that you have allergies to one of the many trees found in Central Park. If you want to know for certain, schedule an allergy test and lets get to the root of it!

To find out more about the different trees in Central Park, click here

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lousy Smarch Weather

Last week I happily put my winter coats in the back of the closet, and then this week I begrudgingly pulled them back out again. It seems that March this year has come in like and lion, and it looks like its going to go out like a…well..a lion. Is this going to make the allergy season shorter? Can we all stop stocking up on Kleenex?

Studies looking at the relationship between weather patterns and pollen levels are notoriously difficult to perform.  Pollen collecting devices are obviously static and cannot move around.  Therefore, any variations in wind patterns precipitation, or even land use for farming and commercial development can have effects on local pollen counts, without really explaining what’s going on in the wider region.

One of the best studies was performed in the mid-eighties in California. The study looked at oak pollen (a really common allergen in NYC, and the most populous trees in Central Park) over a 9 year period of time, looking at various meteorological variables. The level of total pollen counts and, therefore allergy symptoms, was best explained not by the length of the winter months, but by the total rainfall the previous year.  Last year, NYC came just under the average for rainfall, so maybe we will be spared this season?

Another multi-year study in Colorado looked at temperatures and weed pollen (like ragweed). They found that higher temperatures led to more days of high pollen counts, and that early frost effectively ended the allergy season. Will these prolonged low temperatures lead to lower pollen counts this spring? Maybe this year Mother Nature is trying to give all of us a break by keeping it colder just a little bit longer.

If you are interested in finding out if you have allergies, what you are allergic to and how your symptoms can be cured, we are here to help. Give us a call to schedule an appointment, or simply click here to bookonline

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spring In New York City: Crocus Hunting & Pollen Allergies

As a New York City Adult and Pediatric Allergy and Asthma practice, we have a love hate relationship with the spring. Of course we love seeing all of the flowers and trees beginning to bloom, but we have a tough time with the pollen they release into the air, which causes a lot of our allergies to act up.

However, spring means the end to the cold winter, so we welcome the season change and the warm weather it brings. And since we are located in Manhattan, we do look forward to one thing in particular: crocus hunting in Central Park! During the first week of March, we go on an annual crocus hunt, looking for the first flowers of the season to bloom! Now, for those of you who don’t know what crocuses are, here is a picture of some of the beautiful flowers we found last weekend during our hunt.

As soon as they start blooming in Central Park, we know that spring is here, and the coldest months of winter are behind us. Crocus flowers usually start blooming around the first few weeks in March.

The downside to the beautiful spring vegetation is that we also know what’s going to happen next. Over the next few weeks, other beautiful flowers, trees, grasses and weeds are going to start blooming, polluting the air with a lot of pollen.

According to WebMD, the biggest spring allergy trigger is pollen, which are tiny grains released into the air by weeds, trees, and grasses for the purpose of fertilizing other plants. When pollen grains get into the nose of someone who’s allergic, they send the immune system into overdrive.

Your immune system mistakenly sees the pollen as foreign invaders, and releases antibodies -- substances that normally identify and attack bacteria, viruses, and other illness-causing organisms. These antibodies attack the allergens, which leads to the release of chemicals called histamines into the blood. Histamines trigger the runny nose, itchy eyes, and other symptoms of allergies.

If you feel like this battle may be going on inside of your body, you may have allergies.

If you are interested in finding out if you have allergies, what you are allergic to and how your symptoms can be cured, we are here to help. Give us a call to schedule an appointment, or simply click here to book online