PLEASE RAIN !!!!
Your nose sure knows
By MARK ZALOUDEK
Allergy sufferers wondering if the amount of pollen in the air is worse than usual are right on the nose.
Tree pollen counts this spring in Southwest Florida are on their way to becoming the highest in years with several weeks of the season still to go, says retired Sarasota pediatrician Dr. Mary Jelks, the undisputed Queen of the Pollen Count.
"It's certainly one of the worst for the past several years," says Jelks, 75, who has been voluntarily collecting pollen from a special machine on the roof of her home each day and meticulously analyzing her catch under a microscope for the past 45 years.
But her oak pollen count through mid-March has already exceeded the total annual pollen counts for oaks for four of the past six years, and is rapidly closing in on the other two years (2000 and 2004) when she annually tallied more than 75,000 grains of oak pollen.
Sarasota allergist Dr. Howard Fuchs says some of his patients are experiencing much more severe reactions this winter to tree pollens, which "are going off the charts."
"And it's been particularly bad this year because sometimes the treatments aren't working."
Jelks doesn't have to look much farther than her rain gauge to explain this year's abundance of reproductive dust in the air.
"When the oaks started blooming, the rain ceased," preventing pollen from being washed to the ground, she says.
About 15 percent of the population suffers from allergies. Allergens trigger their bodies to produce antibodies to ward off the foreign substances, but in turn, the body's natural defense also creates unwanted side effects such as breathing difficulty, hives and headaches.