Allergy season in full swing - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Allergy season in full swing

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Allergy sufferers, it's that time of year: many of you sneeze and cough your way through the day. Some people rely on allergY forecasts to find out when they'll be the worst, but do they work?

We spoke with two allergy experts, and both said figuring out when your allergies will hit hard is kind of a guessing game.

Dr. John Weiler, president of CompleWare Corporation, uses a Rotorod sampler for a more accurate count. It's a simple machine, with a simple purpose: to find out how many pollen grains are in a cubic meter of air.

"We use these rods to collect pollen. They're sticky, and the pollen are collected on the rod."

Each pollen grain is then counted by hand, under a microscope. "It's a pretty accurate way to determine how much pollen is there."

Although Weiler collects daily measurements for internal company projects, it's the same process used for those pollen forecasts you've seen on television or the internet. But he says to use caution, as they're not always accurate, and are based on counts from the day before.

"There are places that will report sort of estimated counts, and they don't actually do them." And he says to keep in mind that weather plays a big role in how many tissues you go through.

"Rain will tend to lower the counts. When it's a nice, windy day, it will tend to raise the counts."

But doctor Mary Beth Fasano at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Allergy Division, says the forecasts can be useful in finding out what time of year your allergies will be at their worst.

"What you might find out now might reflect if you are a tree pollen-allergic person, how much is out there, and how much that might contribute to your symptoms like sneezing and runny nose and watery, itchy eyes."

Fasano told us over-the-counter antihistamines are still a reliable way to keep sneezing at bay, but says there may be better solutions on the horizon.

"There are also some clinical trials and ongoing research studies looking at therapies that actually target or impact the immune system's response to allergens."

Both doctors say trees and grass are the culprits this time of year. Ragweed sufferers will have to wait until about August 10th, when Weiler says its pollen attacks like clockwork.

Those experts say the most reliable allergy forecast is available from the National Allergy Bureau, at http://www.aaaai.org/nab/index.cfm.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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