Environment

Why is Sacramento’s pollen so bad? It has to do with the city’s nickname

What you should know about seasonal allergies

Seasonal allergies can leave you with a cough, itchy and runny eyes and stuffed up nose. For many with pollen or grass allergies, spring and summer can be uncomfortable. Mayo Clinic allergist Dr. Nancy Ott says over-the-counter remedies such as an
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Seasonal allergies can leave you with a cough, itchy and runny eyes and stuffed up nose. For many with pollen or grass allergies, spring and summer can be uncomfortable. Mayo Clinic allergist Dr. Nancy Ott says over-the-counter remedies such as an

Pollen season is on the decline in Sacramento but don’t tell that to the area’s allergy-sufferers. That’s because Sacramento is still dealing with high levels of tree pollen, according to weather.com. Fitting for the “City of Trees.”

Pollen.com, a site dedicated to pollen forecasting, showed Sacramento with a pollen count of 7.3 out of 12 Thursday, and forecasts similarly high levels for the next five days. Oak and ash trees are causing most of the current problems, according to the website. Overall pollen levels are expected to drop a little by the start of next week.

According to a previous report in The Bee, there’s no good way to avoid contact with pollen.

Dr. NaYoung Kim, an allergist and immunologist with Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento, simply avoiding going outside may be the easiest way for people with bad allergies to deal with the pollen.

“When you look outside and see that it’s super windy, try to stay inside,” Kim said. “If you go outside, try to wear a hat and sunglasses, and when you get inside, peel everything off and shower immediately.”

People often forget that dogs can track pollen into the house, according to Kim, so even if they take the precautions she mentioned, they often neglect to prevent their pet from getting pollen on furniture.

Popular home remedies for allergies include drinking apple cider vinegar, consuming local honey and using a neti pot to flush out the sinuses, but Kim said that evidence supporting these methods is all anecdotal.

Instead, Kim first recommends to her patients a nose spray like Flonase, a steroid that is available over the counter. But she said not everyone likes nose sprays, and that she often recommends Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra or their generic-brand equivalents depending on patients’ needs.

Claritin is best for the elderly with allergies or kids with mild symptoms, according to Kim. Allegra is effective but more expensive, and Zyrtec is effective but causes sleepiness in some allergy sufferers, she said.

Allergies can come and go over a lifetime, according to Kim. It all depends on the environments people have experienced. For example, someone who moves to a new area may react because there is more pollen than they are used to. But someone who is experiencing new kinds of pollen in the air may go through a “honeymoon period” and not have any symptoms because their body hasn’t been sensitized to the new allergen, Kim said.

People can also lose sensitivity to allergens over time, but Kim said trends are showing that people are holding onto allergies longer and longer.

“This is a particularly bad area (for allergies),” Kim said. “We’re kind of a dust bowl here and it’s ‘The City of Trees,’ so allergies are really bad.” Kim said she was recruited to come to Sacramento from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., because allergies are such a problem in this area.

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