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Are your allergies particularly bad right now? You're not alone

Romolo Tavani

If you’ve been thinking, “Wow, my allergies seem worse this season,” one local specialist said you’re not imagining it.

Jody Delaney, a nurse practitioner at Allergy, Asthma, Immunology of Rochester, said the severity of this allergy season is due to a few things, including climate change.

“We've had less time with things being frozen,” Delaney said. “So we're having a longer growing season.”

Delaney explained that the longer season means more pollen in the air.

“So, people are suffering more, including myself,” she said.

About 24 million people across the country were diagnosed with seasonal allergies in 2018, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Symptoms include an itchy or runny nose, sneezing, congestion and postnasal drip.

Delaney said mask-wearing can help relieve those symptoms.

“If you're going to be outside, and you know that the pollens are high, there's certainly no reason that you can't wear a mask, because it does help,” she said.

Delaney and her staff have seen an uptick in patients this season. She said with COVID-19 still posing a threat, knowing the difference between the disease and allergies is important.

She said COVID-19 and allergies have some similar symptoms like sneezing and congestion, but she said people should pay attention to whether these are accompanied by a fever, body aches, or loss of smell. She said those are clear signs that you’re not only fighting allergies.

Delaney said she anticipates that allergy season moving forward could get worse.

“If you're feeling it and the things that you've been doing aren't working, then we need to change that up a little bit,” she said.

This includes making changes at home, like vacuuming more if you have carpets, making sure that windows are kept closed if a neighbor is mowing the lawn, checking local pollen counts, keeping central air conditioning on, and making sure that air filters are changed regularly. She also said when returning from outdoors, leave your shoes outside and remove and wash your clothes.

If those tips don’t work, she said antihistamines or allergy shots are other options.

“There are certainly ways that you don't need to suffer and you can get better,” she said.

Racquel Stephen is WXXI's health, equity and community reporter and producer. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.