Allergies can happen at any time, but the worst time for people is usually the spring.
“Right now this time of year, we have all of our trees producing pollen. They start out with the cedar and move through the aspens, and right now we are looking at the beginning of the birch season which is usually a pretty heavy producer. Up here in Maine most of our pollen is from the trees,” says David Macek the Environmental Specialist for the Aroostook Band of Micmacs.
“This area is full of trees, and at this time all of the pollen is coming up. So this is the period of time where people are going to start coming out from a long winter, and they will begin feeling the symptoms of the allergies and the pollen hitting them,” says Sergio Lema, the Lead Hospitalist at TAMC.
Lema says symptoms can be very mild like a small rash to a more severe reaction that affects your airway. But the most common is hay fever, which is a runny nose and itchy eyes. The best way to treat your symptoms is to avoid the pollen. Lema says the size of the pollen doesn’t matter.
“The size doesn’t, but the volume does, so that’s why you have counts in the air,” says Lema.
So how exactly do you get a pollen count? That’s what David Macek does everyday. He sticks Vaseline on a small rod and places it inside a sampler which spins for 1 minute, every ten minutes, for 24 hours. He then collects the rods and coats it with a special stain that will only stain the pollen. He then looks at the pollen under a microscope and counts the different species of pollen.
“The pollen count here is a background level, which would be a minimum that anyone would be exposed to, so our numbers do appear to be sort of low. A person in a wooded area would experience much higher numbers,” says Macek
Macek says there is probably about 3 weeks or so left of the tree pollen season. Lema says the best thing to do if you suffer from allergies is to figure out which pollen affects you and check the pollen counts.