July 18, 2013

A hectic spring has brought more people into the doctor's office than usual for seasonal allergies.

About 7.8 percent of U.S. adults experience hay fever symptoms annually, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology.

"Pretty much everyone I see has allergies, in varying degrees," said Dr. Karla Cheney, a pediatrician at St. Anthony Regional Hospital.

This year more than ever, as increased rain following a drought may have brought additional problems, she said.

"Possibly more mold from extra rain," Cheney said. "Higher pollen count, overcompensating for last year."

Dr. Edward Nassif, an allergy specialist for McFarland Clinic, said allergies can vary greatly from season to season and person to person, but he also said he has seen a dramatic increase from the norm so far this summer, especially through June and early July.

"It's been a little hard on people," Nassif said.

Nassif said there was a spike in allergies last year because of the dry weather, but that this year was worse. He also said people with asthma have had exacerbated symptoms.

But if the year so far has been bad, worse is coming for the allergy-inflicted.

"Usually in July most people actually feel a little bit better because that's the end of the spring and summer pollens, and then the fall, about the middle of August, is when things really start acting up," Nassif said.

August is the start of ragweed season, the culprit of the commonly known "hay fever." And looking down the throat of a dry summer's end, allergy sufferers should begin preparing.

"You really would like people - I'd say toward the end of July, and early August - to get started on their medicines before things get bad," Nassif said.