Spring has sprung, and allergy sufferers are feeling it | By Bonnie Shelton and KTVB | April 7, 2015 | KTVB


BOISE -- Trees are blooming across the Treasure Valley, and that spells trouble for spring allergy sufferers.

"I've definitely noticed they've picked up here in the last couple weeks," said Robert Hunter.

Allergists say a warm February helped speed up growth, and they've had a large number of patients report bad allergy symptoms already this year.

"The trees started blooming so early that we had a lot of our patients who wanted to come in and get proactive in treating themselves," said Dr. Neetu Talreja.

Some plants and trees bloomed weeks earlier than last year. That means people with seasonal allergies are experiencing the familiar itchy eyes, stuffy nose and sneezing.

"Right now it's mostly the tree pollen," said Dr. Talreja.

At the Allergy Group in Boise, Dr. Talreja and her team complete a pollen count daily. A small tool gathers pollen samples from the air, and employees use a microscope to count the levels of different allergens.

This past week, the pollen count was as high as 400. That's unusually high for this time of year. We usually don't see those numbers until the end of April.

"It must be miserable for people who are really allergic right now," added Dr. Talreja.

"Not until I moved to Boise did I ever have allergies, and cottonwood is the big one for me," said Kathryn Hunter.

Allergists say it can take a year for your body to adjust to a major lifestyle or location change. Developing new allergies isn't uncommon. As your immune system evolves, you can become sensitive to trees and grasses later in life.

Over-the-counter antihistamines can help some people deal with their allergies. If your symptoms are severe or last for weeks on end, see a specialist who can pinpoint exactly what allergens are bothering you.

Allergists say if you are allergic to pollen, washing your car during the spring and summer months can help provide some relief. They also recommend taking a shower before bed to rinse any pollen from your hair and skin.

Other things that can help: Move your outdoor activities to the afternoon, shut the windows at home to keep pollen out, try using a neti pot to flush out allergens, and use high-efficiency filters to keep pollen out of the air in your home if you use forced air-conditioning or heating systems.