Allergy season

Waterbury Hospital Collects Pollen Count to Help Allergy Sufferers

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‘Tis the season: allergy season.

Waterbury Hospital has an instrument on its roof that they use to collect pollen and then they break down the data.

Lab technicians have been gathering this pollen count information for 36 years now. The seasonal pollen count began in April and it runs through September.

“Right now our allergies are starting to kick up a little bit and you can see that in the count,” said Kayla Mae Stewart, a medical lab technician who recently learned how to collect this data.

Allergist Dr. Christopher Rudolph has been overseeing the program for almost four decades and in that time, he said, the allergy season has become longer as climate change has made the weather warmer.

The biggest bother for people: tree pollen.

“Really the trees are a major player and they peak in May, particularly around Mothers’ Day,” said Rudolph, a clinical professor in pediatrics, allergy, and immunology at Yale University.

He says the hospital’s pollen count can help folks pinpoint and attribute their seasonal allergy symptoms.

The doctor said he’s seeing more folks meeting with him after confusing allergies with COVID-19.

“Obviously the difference is the itching and sneezing are much more characteristic of allergy this time of year in New England certainly than they are of COVID-19,” he said.

On this sunny day in April, even allergy sufferers, like Stewart, were hard pressed to stay inside.

She looks forward to checking the pollen count daily.

“It rained this morning, so tomorrow I expect the mold count to be higher with the humidity in the air, so you’ll see it. It’ll be reflected in the pollen count,” Stewart said.

You can check the daily pollen count here. The numbers represent the count from the day before.

Dr. Rudolph said seasonal allergies tend to begin in our teenage years and folks begin to build immunity by their 50s and 60s.

In the meantime, he said, if you have symptoms, schedule an appointment with an allergist. He says nasal steroid sprays are the best treatment.

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