Experts say high pollen levels in Utah contributing to seasonal allergies

Posted at 5:36 PM, Mar 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-25 19:36:33-04

WEBER COUNTY, Utah -- Perry Halls of South Weber has had bad allergies since he was a little kid.

"I would scratch my eye or something, and all of the sudden it would just swell up," Halls said.

If you're swelling, sneezing, and sniffling too, you're in good company.

Doctors at Intermountain Allergy and Asthma actually measure the pollen in the air with a tool called a rotarod, which sits on a roof in Draper. They measure the amount of pollen every day, and almost every day this year that pollen count has been very high, according to Physician’s Assistant Wesley Norwood.

"Last year, if you look at a five-year trend, it was probably one of the worst years we've had in the last five years," Norwood said. "This year, we've only been a few weeks into the pollen season, and it’s been comparable to last year."

It's all related to precipitation.

"Because we didn't get a lot of snow, the snowpack here in the valley and where all the trees grow wasn't bad, so the trees were able to cast their pollen a lot earlier because it didn't have to wait for everything to warm up," Norwood said.

There are three main ways to treat your seasonal allergies. The first and easiest is to close your windows. Next, try medicine and give it time to work. The last option is desensitization or immunotherapy. It requires frequent shots, but the process seems to get the job done for people with chronic, debilitating allergies like Halls.

"I mean, they'll always be there," Halls said. "The allergies will always be there, but the shots have really helped me cope with it to the point where I’m not coming in here every week, which is nice."

This is only the beginning of the allergy season, so if you're allergic to pollen, this is the worst time of year. But, if it's grass and weeds that get you, stay tuned because your allergies will start manifesting in summer and fall.