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Specialists say allergy season has come early

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POSTED January 22, 2014 1:14 a.m.

Meteorologists, farmers and skiers aren’t the only ones praying for wet weather.

On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in anticipation of the driest year on record in California history, calling for residents to exercise a voluntary 20 percent reduction in their water use.

While a lack of precipitation has riled up politicians and farmers alike, physicians and health care officials have encountered a new wrinkle to this warm weather saga.

The spring allergy season has sprung.

Specialist say the dry, warm weather has triggered the pollination process months ahead of schedule, and without rain to cleanse the air, many are experiencing unseasonable bouts with allergies.

Bulletin reader Amanda Petra has run the gamut of symptoms – from swollen, red eyes to sneezing fits.

“Can’t catch a break for the life of me,” she wrote in an e-mail to The Bulletin. “Sneezing is the worst when trying to drive.”

Dr. Robert Torrano is a physician with the Allergy and Asthma Associates of Northern California, a group of board certified specialists in adult and pediatric asthma, allergy and immunology and pulmonary disease.

Allergy and Asthma Associates of Northern California serve on the clinical faculty at Stanford University and  University of California San Francisco.

Torrano and his colleagues have been carefully monitoring the pollen and asthma levels, and he believes there is reason to be concerned.

“It’s warm and the plants are responding to that. The dry air, that alone is harsh on the airway. Air quality has been poor as well, with a lot of particulate and air pollution,” he said. “It’s just unusual. We need rain to cleanse the air.”

Allergy pollen levels for the City of Manteca have hovered in the medium range (4.9 to 7.2) since the first of the year, according to pollen.com, but will escalate through the weekend. The pollen level is expected to be 5.9 today. That number will jump on Thursday (7.1) before reaching the medium-high level on Friday at 7.3.

The predominant pollens are alder and juniper, according to pollen.com.

Those who suffer from asthma may also experience symptoms. The asthma level for the Manteca area will range from 5.7 today to 6.2 on Thursday and Friday. According to pollen.com, levels between 4.9 and 7.2 will likely cause  a reaction in those afflicted with asthma.

“The rain would normally be cleaning the pollen out of the air. You don’t tend to see a lot of allergy activity this early,” Torrano said. “If it doesn’t rain, with a dry-and-warm spell the trees will pollinate.”

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