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High pollen count has allergies acting up more than normal for some Utahns

Posted at 9:48 PM, Jun 04, 2021

Have you noticed your seasonal allergies kicking up in recent weeks? Allergy doctors say their appointments are full of people who aren't finding relief from the typical medicines — and there might be a reason why.

They're also saying that your symptoms could be impacted by wearing masks.

At the West Jordan splash pad, kids ran into their summer season screaming for joy.

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In the grassy area around the spraying water fountains, parents sat watching under umbrellas and canopies.

Kaydee Carter told her daughter Ella to put on more sunscreen.

The parents have a little more on their minds than the kids.

"Put some more on your face. Your cheeks are red," Carter said, to Ella. In addition to trying to avoid sunburn, Carter also kept tabs on how she felt sitting outdoors.

Often, uncomfortable symptoms creep up.

"Your nose gets uncontrollable as far as it being runny, and then it just runs down your throat," she explained. "And then if your eyes itch, if you touch them, it gets even worse. So it's like everything just acts up."

And doctors like Dr. Thad Abbott, who works in Allergy and Immunology for Intermountain Healthcare, said pollen is particularly bad this year. He said pollen seems to be getting worse and worse each year.

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Right now, doctors like him are reaching their peak busy time for appointments.

"We see a lot of people coming in, where taking their antihistamine just isn't enough and they're looking for more relief," Dr. Abbott said.

Interestingly enough, Dr. Abbott indicated that seasonal allergy symptoms may be hitting people differently, depending on how much they wear a mask or wore a mask before the mandate expired.

"Masks are there to help filter out particles, and that would include the pollen that most people are allergic to during these types of seasons," he said. "So wearing a mask can cut down on symptoms."

Shawn Kuchinski, who sat next to the splash pad under a pop-up canopy, has noticed that this season

"When the mask is on, it's been wonderful," he said.

Kuchinski is a para-educator at Navigator Pointe Academy in West Jordan. Mr. K — as the kids call him — was used to wearing a mask all day, every day at work.

"My allergies, I've noticed, have really started to pick up on days when I'm not working," he said. "So on the weekends. For example-- Outside in the garden, outside mowing the lawn."

School just ended this week, which means his symptoms could start ramping up in the coming weeks.

"They last all summer long, under the right conditions," Kuchinski said, with a chuckle.

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Dr. Abbott said we are moving away from tree pollen season and into grass pollen season. If allergy medicine just isn't doing it for your symptoms, he suggested seeing a board-certified allergist and looking into getting an allergy shot.

The allergist will conduct an allergy test, and build a specific shot based on what someone is allergic to. Those shots, Dr. Abbott explained, help people adjust their immune system, so it doesn't overreact to things like pollen and animal dander.

Other tips Dr. Abbott offered included keeping your windows closed and running your air conditioning through a filter to catch pollens. He suggested staying indoors during high pollen count days. You can find a daily pollen count tracker here.