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Springtime tree pollen can be brutal for Oklahoma allergy sufferers

Mulberry, pecan, elm and cedar are among the worst offenders when it comes to producing tree pollen that make Oklahomans with allergies miserable.
by Matt Patterson Published: April 9, 2012

“Trees like the Bradford pear use a tremendous amount of metabolic energy to attract insects by producing nectar that attracts insects,” she said. “They don't produce a lot of airborne allergens for this reason.”

Levetin said the blame placed on Bradford pears is similar to the blame placed on golden rod in the fall.

“People blame golden rod because it has yellow flowers that are very obvious,” she said. “Ragweed has flowers that are more inconspicuous but is the cause of most allergy problems in the fall. Wind-pollinating flowers tend to be less conspicuous.”

Metz said mulberry and pecan trees are also known for causing severe allergies, and both are common in Oklahoma, with pecans found in more rural areas. Mesquite trees also cause problems. Mesquites are both wind- and tree-pollinated.

Same symptoms

No matter the tree, the symptoms are the same. Itchy throat, runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing fits. Metz said patients he sees complain about all of those symptoms, but two rise above them all.

“The eye symptoms and the postnasal drip tend to be the ones that bother them the most,” Metz said.

For those who do suffer from allergies, there are options including prescription and over-the-counter medication.

Metz said it's best to start with the over-the-counter medication first. If they don't provide relief, testing by an allergist is a good idea.

And for those who don't want to take medication, Levitin said staying indoors helps, especially during the morning hours when tree pollen counts are often the highest.

“You can do things to limit your exposure,” Levitin said. “We have found running the air conditioning can help remove some pollen. Having windows open to catch a nice breeze might be nice this time of year, but not if you have allergies.”

by Matt Patterson
Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun....
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