Wednesday, February 26, 2014

5 signs that spring & spring allergies are on their way (in NYC)

After a long and particularly “white” winter - especially if you’re in the NYC area - we bet you are more than ready for spring. But for those of you with seasonal allergies, the dawning of spring also means the beginning of the much dreaded sneezing, wheezing, and itching. The real culprit in this case is pollen, or the grains emitted by trees, weeds, and grasses to fertilize other plants, thus completing the essential process of life and of sending your immune system into overdrive. Today we’ve gathered for you five signs that spring and spring allergies are coming soon to New York City, and some tips that can help you enjoy blooming flowers without blooming allergies too!

1. Warming weather: This winter we’ve went through a particularly busy onslaught of snow storms, with temperatures dipping down to near record lows and treacherous conditions forcing school closings and traffic accidents. But relief is near! After a few chilly days at the end of February, weather forecasts get a great deal sunnier, and those of us who’ve battled through this winter can relax and expect some pleasant days ahead. However, for the city’s spring-blooming trees (whose pollen are the most to blame for spring allergies), especially in beautiful Central Park, this thawing is their signal to begin sending their pollen spores out and begin their beautiful and itchy return to life.

2. Late winter precipitation: In addition to the vigorous snow storms throughout the season, we’ve also seen quite a few thunderstorms in this late winter. This plentiful watering creates favorable conditions for trees and plants to bloom and could mean higher pollen counts when they do.

3. We’ve got top secret information that bulb flowers like tulips and daffodils are already beginning to sprout in Central Park through the melting snow. Although bulb flower pollens or fragrances are not notable spring allergens, their presence is the harbinger of the season and the blooming of other Central Park and city-wide trees and plants, much like the American elm.

4. Early blooming American elm flowers: Fortunately for many NYC dwellers, there’s a great stock of the graceful and massive American elm trees throughout Central Park. Unfortunately for many of us, elm pollen is one of the greatest offenders of spring allergies in New York City and the Northeast. In addition, American elm flowers bloom in clusters in early spring, as early as late January. This means that by late February, if we’re not experiencing elm pollen already, we should be expecting them, and the accompanying allergy symptoms, soon.

5. Allergenic city trees: Along with elm, some of the most common street trees in New York City, such as maple, ash, and oak (which account for 5 of the 10 most common NYC trees) are among the top culprits of spring allergies and of your sneezing, sniffling, misery.

So what are some ways to combat the dark side of a coming spring?
  • Shut windows and doors to keep out pollen
  • Avoid going out in the morning when pollen count is the highest
  • Keep track of pollen levels and stay in when they’re particularly high
  • Regular house-cleaning to prevent outdoor allergen build-up on furniture

These are a few basic tips to help you enjoy the spring season. Seeing an allergist before pollen arrives can also help you identify your offending allergens and fight (aka treat) the battle early.  If this is you, get in contact with us, you will be glad you did.