|In our area of Northwest Washington State, the pollen season
starts in late January to early February with the appearance of cedar and
juniper pollens. Soon thereafter, alder and birch pollen and other tree
pollens such as cottonwood, oak and maple begin to appear. Alder and birch
and related pollens occur
in high concentrations and are generally the most allergenic pollens in our
area in the spring time. They peak in March - April. Cedar and juniper pollen
are usually less important as they are heavier pollens that do not tend to
drift very far from their source. However, in some individuals these pollens
can be clinically important. Tree pollens tend to decrease in concentrations
in late April and early May.
Grass pollens begin to show up in the counter
around mid May when tall grass starts to appear, and peak in June. They
persist through mid to late July. Grass season is probably the most
significant pollen season in our area which is known for high concentrations
of grass pollen. This pollen is very allergenic and causes significant
allergic symptoms and disruption of quality of life in many Whatcom County
residents. The peak in grass pollen concentration in June coincides
with the showing of the cottonwood "fluffs" which are the seeds from the
cottonwood trees. These "fluffs" are not the cause of allergy symptoms during this
time of year.
Weed pollens are generally less important for allergy sufferers than tree
and grass pollens in our area. They begin to show in June and July and
persist through late summer. We do not have the significant ragweed problem
here that occurs in the Midwest and East Coast in the fall time.
Mold spores may be present all year but generally are highest in
in summer and fall time.
Allergy seasons are not over with the disappearance of pollens in the air
outside, as dust mites in our homes are most problematic for allergic
individuals in the fall time. We close up our windows and spend more time
indoors and dust mite populations increase because of the increase in indoor
humidity. For many allergy sufferers, symptoms in the fall time can be
almost as bad as in those occurring in the grass or tree pollen season.
However, symptoms may vary for some as the "histamine" reactions of sneezing and itching common in
the spring and summer may be less important than nasal congestion,
sinus headache, sinus infections and worsening of asthma in the fall time.
For those with asthma and sinus infections, viral upper respiratory
infections are important triggers for worsening symptoms. These begin in our
school children within the first few weeks of school in September and soon
thereafter parents and other adults will begin to experience problems. There
is a peak in asthma hospitalizations in children in the fall time due to
viral induced asthma exacerbations. Thus, two important triggers occur in
the fall time for many with asthma and allergies in our area; dust mites and
viral upper respiratory infections.
Pollen Counts for pollen and mold
counts in our area.
Bellingham-Whatcom County Asthma and Allergy
for more information on asthma and allergies in our area.
William Anderson MD
Asthma & Allergy Center of Whatcom County
2075 Barkley Blvd. Ste. 220
* Bellingham Washington 98226