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Dr. Max Gomez: High Pollen Counts Could Cause Spike In Asthma Cases

CBS New York (con't)

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NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — A wet snowy winter and a sudden burst of warm weather have combined to create a pollen explosion.

When pollen counts go up, so do the number of new asthma cases.

You only have to look around to know that allergy season has arrived. Trees are in bloom and grass will soon be spreading its pollen, followed by ragweed in the late summer and fall.

“I get a stuffy nose, puffy eyes, watery eyes, itchy eyes, sinus pressure,” Jennifer Thompson said.

As CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, some allergy symptoms can look a lot like asthma, but the treatments for asthma and allergies can differ greatly.

Allergies can also act as a trigger for asthma, so it’s not uncommon for a particularly bad allergy season to expose someone’s asthma for the first time.

“Last year, because the pollen counts were so high and the allergy seasons were bad I had my allergy patients, who’ve never had asthma symptoms before, get them. So, now they have a new diagnosis of asthma,” Dr. Rachel Szekely explained.

Asthmatics are typically more sensitive to things like pollen, which can irritate the airway, that’s what makes allergy season so troublesome.

Some people are genetically pre-disposed to having asthma, but the amount of pollen required to trigger it can vary making asthma tricky to diagnose during this time of the year.

“It can be, sometimes, hard to sort out because a lot of people don’t have very serious symptoms. They say, ‘well I’ve never had an asthma attack. I haven’t been to the hospital because of my asthma,’ that’s actually a good thing. We don’t want that. But, even just a chronic cough can be a symptom of asthma and you should get that checked out,” Dr. Szekely explained.

If the asthma does get worse it can cause serious problems.

“Everything just starts moving real slow. You feel like somebody has a hand over your mouth and you just can’t, you know, let loose,” asthma patient Jack Robb, explained.

It is possible to have allergies without asthma, but if breathing symptoms, like coughing, last longer than 7-10 days it’s a good idea to visit a doctor.

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