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Achoo! It's allergy season in Yuba-Sutter
• Local Allergy report/pollen count from Allergy Medical Group of the North Area: www.allergymedgroup.com.
• Facts and statistics from American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: www.acaai.org.
The first day of spring isn't until March 20, but it sure feels like it's here: afternoons are warmer, flowers are blooming and people are slogging through symptoms of hay fever.
However, this allergy season will be a typical one and not too strong, said Dr. Sunil Perera, with Roseville-based Allergy Medical Group of the North Area, which has an office in Yuba City.
The pollen allergy report for the week of Feb. 27, compiled by the group, indicates that trees are at a moderate concentration. Cypress and cedar pollen remains high, cottonwood and elm pollen is at low levels, and mold spore levels are low.
On a less scientific and more human level, Lois Larson of Yuba City, complained that wind on Friday was stirring up her allergies.
"The wind is driving me nuts," Larson said. "I'm sneezing, and my eyes are running."
Allergens tend to be heavier on the valley floor than in the foothills, Yuba County spokesman Russ Brown said. Biomass, along with pollutants like diesel exhaust, tend to gather up and linger in the valley, as if one were filling up a bowl.
Sutter County Health Officer Dr. Lou Anne Cummings said there's the potential for dust and allergens, considering the county is an agricultural area. Data also shows that Sutter County tends to have higher asthma rates than the average in northern California.
She said it's important for people who have asthma to work closely with their doctors to come up with a management plan, including keeping track of allergies and figuring out what to do on high pollen count days.
"Allergies are no joke, they can be very incapacitating," Cummings said. "If people have problems with allergies, it's very important for them to manage them."
For more simply, follow Larson's example.
"As long as I stay in my house and take my allergen pill, I'm OK," she said.
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Roseville doctor tracks spores
Dr. Sunil Perera has his main office in Roseville and two others in Sacramento and Yuba City.
On the rooftop in Roseville is a pollen and mold spore tracker; it captures biomass on a slide that's removed every 24 hours.
It measures pollen over a 50-mile radius, including the Yuba-Sutter area. The next closest tracker is in Stockton.
Perera does the count once or twice a week. Those results are sent to the National Allergy Bureau, and findings are updated on the Bureau website and on the Allergy Medical Group website.
"What we are finding is that if you combine the data from pollen and mold, and when there's high pollution, people react more to pollen," Perera said. "When they interact in the respiratory tract ... that causes more symptoms."
Perera said the earliest trees that start to bloom in the valley are alder, followed by almond trees.
"Then you get ash, cottonwood, oak and mulberry in the rest of the valley. Those go on March into April," Perera said.
Pharmacist offers tips
Luong Huynh, pharmacist at the Medicine Shoppe in Marysville, said he hasn't seen as many allergy-sufferers coming into the store as compared to previous years.
"We've been busy with the flu, but not so much with the allergies," Huynh said.
To deal with symptoms without taking medication, Huynh suggests NasalCrom, an over-the-counter nasal spray that encapsulates histamines from being released. Normal saline can also wash away pollens, he said, by using either a nasal spray or a Neti pot.
"Basically, I would first ask them what they're currently using. If they're not using anything, I ask if drowsiness is a concern. Usually I go with the less expensive medication, which is Benadryl," Huynh said.
Oral pills don't work too well for eye irritations, he said.
He suggests using eye drops that have antihistamine, such as Naphcon-A or Visine-A.