Want to start an argument that has nothing to do with politics?
Try telling people that the yellow cloud of sticky pine pollen outside is not what’s triggering their allergies.
You’ll probably be right … and they probably won’t believe you.
According to www.webmd.com and doctors I’ve consulted for years (including allergists), the pine pollen that can blanket your vehicles, your house and your life likely won’t cause your eyes to water and your nose to run.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Tribune
The website reports that, while pines throughout the U.S. “make a huge amount of pollen in the spring,” the “thick yellow layer of powder all over your car is … probably not what’s making you sneeze.”
The website says “the heavy, waxy coating that makes it easy to see (pine pollen) also keeps it from triggering allergies.”
So, what is the springtime culprit? When our native Monterey pines are burying us under swirls of yellow fog, other species — such as sycamore, oak and acacia — can release their allergy-prompting pollen.
Allergies are “just awful” now and have been for while, according to nurse practitioner CeCe Lomeli, our primary-care medical professional in Cambria.
Many people are just plain miserable. Sneezing is rampant.
What a winter! First there was a record-setting spate of flu, then many got the nasty “Cambria crud” cold with its wracking cough. Some infections degenerated rapidly into bronchitis, pneumonia and hospital stays.
Just when people were beginning to feel semi-normal again, boom! Allergies began to rage, after peculiar weather patterns in which a sharp cold spell alternated with a heat wave and rain storms.
A local nurse described Cambria’s annual wave of springtime allergy attacks: Parents “think their kids are seriously anemic, because they just won’t get off the couch. They’re under the weather and totally fatigued.”
She said that’s a normal reaction to an allergic onslaught at any age. “If you’re pollen-sensitive, your system is fighting off a relentless, around-the-clock allergen onslaught. By the time you wake up, your immune system has already done a full day’s work.”
Our Atascadero allergist said years ago that she was treating so many Cambria patients, “it’s like a club over there.” Our eye doctor told us, only partially joking, that “if it triggers allergy attacks, it probably grows in Cambria.”
I’d have to agree, especially after checking www.pollenlibrary.com. I keyed in Cambria’s 93428 ZIP code, and the website responded with a list of 168 pollens likely to cause allergy attacks, 47 of which were listed as being “acute” triggers. Egad!
And don’t forget mold and mildew, substances to which many people are allergic. Rain enhances mold growth in grasses and piles of leaves, and I imagine that’s especially true in our densely forested areas.
Add in April winds, and you have a prescription for misery.
Other weather conditions can also contribute to our allergy woes.
I always thought fog would help allergy sufferers. But apparently not so much, I’m told now, as fog tends to trap pollens closer to the ground, right in the air we breathe. Swell.
Sad to say there’s no cure for allergies. So, we swallow pills and homeopathics, use nasal sprays, take allergy shots, change our household habits (close those windows!) and control when we go where.
Does swallowing local honey help combat allergies? Our grandparents told us it did, because you supposedly ingest minute bits of immunizing pollen in each spoonful. But www.honey.com/faq says honey is made from flower nectar, not pollen. The website says even if the honey does contain bits of tag-along pollen, male sex cells from flowers apparently don’t trigger nearly as many allergies as do the pollens from trees and grasses. Various other websites agree.
Whatever. Honey is a good expectorant, and it can sooth ragged sore throats. So, keep adding it to your tea, anyway.
If Cambria is allergy central, then where do allergy patients suffer less?
The Flonase firm manufactures a steroid nasal spray for allergy sufferers and therefore has a vested interest in knowing where its products are needed most and least. It reports studies showing that, out of 100 metropolitan areas tested in 2015, five cities were ranked as the best for those with allergies: San Diego; Daytona Beach, Fla.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Provo, Utah; and Sacramento.
Interesting. We have relatives in four of those cities. Maybe this would be a good time to visit. …
How many people have allergies?
Is it comforting to know you’re not alone? Web MD (https://wb.md/2GLH5Di) says. “each year, 35 million Americans fall prey to seasonal allergic rhinitis.”
According to Allergist, an online publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, “allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.”
It goes on to say at https://bit.ly/2IDXLx7 that “asthma and allergic diseases, such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), food allergy and eczema, are common for all age groups in the United States. Asthma affects more than 24 million people in the U.S., including more than 6 million children.”