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Allergies Got You Down? Blame the Grass, But It's Not as Bad As You Think This Year


The beauty and warmth of Eugene’s spring into summer days comes with a few drawbacks. Mosquitos, sweat and for many, allergies. For Melanie Wayne, a nurse practitioner at Oregon Allergy Associates this means a lot of patients to treat.

Wayne says that if you think your allergies are worse this year than in the past, it may just be psychological. “Our numbers always get high but this year we had such cool weather longer that it may have lured people in false sense of security. So, when it did warm up the pollen came in really fast and hard.”

The grass farms surrounding Eugene are to blame for the allergy trap the city has become. Both grass seed and hay farming release tons of allergens this time of year. Recent pollen counts conducted by the Oregon Allergy Associates show grass pollen at the caliber of “very high” in Eugene which is the highest possible rating. “Some of the highest pollen counts anywhere,” Wayne says.

According to Wayne, when it inevitably rains in Eugene it does decrease overall pollen counts. However, it can cause the grass pollen to break apart into tiny fragments which get deeper into your lungs and trigger a more intense mucus reaction.

Photo by Brooke Novak, Creative Commons license

“Symptoms from these allergies include itching, sneezing, swollen eyes, particularly concerning though is asthma symptoms,” Wayne says.

If you have pollen allergies you could get a reaction when eating a type of food. “Pollen allergies and food allergies are both driven by the allergic antibody IgE. Interestingly, there is a condition called oral allergy syndrome where people with certain pollen allergies can get oral or throat itching with certain food proteins, it's not technically a dangerous food allergy, but it can be quite uncomfortable. However, if the food is cooked, it attenuated the protein and is not reactive,” Wayne says.

If you have allergies, treatments can be obtained in multiple ways. There’s the over the counter pills and nasal spray, but Wayne recommends getting a desensitization shot or tablet from your doctor.