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May 6, 2014

Short but sneezy allergy season expected

TRAVERSE CITY — Robert Lazar follows a familiar course when patients show up at his office wheezing and congested:

He typically scratches their skin and exposes them to a wide range of trees, grasses and weeds.

Lazar, an allergist at Grand Traverse Allergy in Traverse City, then checks to see which substances cause a reaction.

Northern Michiganders who suffer from seasonal allergies could be in for a doozy this season, allergists said. They expect a short, intense season with stronger-than-usual reactions.

“It’s going to be much shorter, but that means all the trees are going to start pollinating at the same time, which means aggregate pollen count is going to be pretty high,” Lazar said. “There’s a direct correlation between how high a pollen count gets and increasing severity of symptoms, so for each individual, as the pollen count gets higher, they’ll have greater symptomatology.”

The fall season will be difficult too, Lazar said, because the cold spring allowed weeds to get a head start on other plants, making for a bad ragweed season.

Terri Feldpausch, a White Cloud resident who was in Traverse City on Monday, said she felt allergy symptoms descend upon her on Sunday.

“My head was stuffed up and my nose started to run,” Feldpausch said, as she took a moment to remember whether she’d taken an allergen relief medication in the morning.

Rick Utterback, a Traverse City resident who said he’s sensitive to seasonal allergies, hasn’t yet had the urge to sneeze.

“I don’t think they’re as bad (this year),” Utterback said.

About one in every three people experience seasonal allergies, said James McClellan, the allergist at Bayside Allergy in Traverse City. They’ll experience symptoms like nasal congestion, a runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, wheezing, rashes and itchiness.

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