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Aaaahhh..It’s Back …Chooooo!

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In previous columns I talked about things that appear on a regular basis. The changing of our clocks by springing ahead one hour to start Daylight Saving Time and the Vernal Equinox which marks the official beginning of Spring. Now another annual event is taking place. I really wasn’t paying attention, but I noticed my sinuses were acting up more than usual beyond what is normal for my chronic sinus condition. I decided to check the pollen count and there was my answer. The tree pollen was up to 160 in the high category. The tree pollen floating around now is from cedar, alder, birch, and ash trees.

Birch Pollen
Birch Tree  Pollen (Magnified) | Image by

I am allergic to ragweed, grasses and trees. Since I grew up in Upstate New York all three were  available to make me sneeze. The tree allergy started first in the spring followed by the grass allergy in the summer. There usually was a break where the sneezing stopped. That was always around my birthday the first week of August. The break lasted at most a week or two and then ragweed season took over. Once I moved out of the state of New York the ragweed allergy wasn’t a problem because there wasn’t ragweed in the other places where I lived. The other two allergies, however, showed up in every location where I moved for a new job.

Ragweek | Photo by

For those who have seasonal allergies and even those who don’t it’s a good idea to define the problem. According to allergy is “A misguided reaction to foreign substances by the immune system, the body system against foreign invaders, particularly pathogens (the agents of infection). The allergic reaction is misguided in that these foreign substances are usually harmless. The substances that that trigger allergy are called allergen. Examples include pollens, dust mite, molds, danders, and certain foods. People prone to allergies are said to be allergic or atopic.”

The site lists the most common allergic conditions as “hay fever (allergic rhinitis), asthma, allergic eyes ( allergic conjunctivitis), allergic eczema, hives (urticaria), and allergic shock (also called anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock).”

Allergy shot
Allergy Shot | Image by fauquier ENTbng through

“Pollen allergies affect up to 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children in the United States” according to Allergy symptoms can be treated by over-the-counter medications and remedies, prescription allergy medications, and allergy shots. When I was first officially diagnosed with my allergies I went through a series of shots made from less and less diluted solutions containing my particular pollens. I was just about up to needing the shot only once a year when I had my month-long stay in the hospital with a 107 fever of undetermined origin resulting in a blood clot in my leg. It was during that period of time that I was supposed to get my allergy shot. Due to the long delay in getting the injection I would have had to start all over again. That wasn’t possible for me at the time so I had to go back to the prescription medication and nasal sprays.

If you or someone in your family exhibit seasonal allergies that are not relieved by the over-the-counter products then the best alternative is to go to an allergy specialist. In my case, when I was having increasingly intense allergy symptoms I went to Oregon Allergy Associates. This isn’t a commercial for them, but the reason I chose them is that they are the people who provide the only official pollen count for the Eugene-Springfield area. I had direct contact with them on a regular basis to get the pollen count that I used to broadcast on television. I continue to use their reports here on Eugene Daily News. Just go to Chuey’s Corner  and the current pollen count will be down toward the bottom in the right column.

Normal Sinuses-Sinusitis | Image by

For me the testing was not all that complicated and we did get a better picture of my allergy situation. The only problem was that we were already doing just about everything that could be done for me. It was suggested that I go to an ENT (ear, Nose, and throat) specialist. I did that and Dr. Susan Urben over time performed two separate surgeries on my sinuses and nasal passages (No, not a nose-job) that have greatly improved the function of my sinuses.

Air Sampler
Burkard Air Sampler | Photo by Oregon Allergy Associates

Here’ a quick look at how Oregon Allergy Associates uses technology to provide the pollen count numbers that I publish for you.They use a devise called a Burked air sampler that they have placed on the second story of their office building located in Downtown Eugene at 15th Avenue and Oak Street. The machine has a vacuum pump that sucks in air much as human lungs do.

Inside View
Inside View Of Burkard Air Sampler | Photo by Oregon Allergy Associates

The air flows over a greased microscope slide inside and the pollen is deposited on the slide. The pollen grains are counted each day Monday through Friday. For samples collected while the office is unattended over the weekend or up to a week in duration an adaptor is used that has a sticky tape on it to capture the pollen.

If you would like more details concerning the pollen count or information about their medical practice you can go to their home page at Oregon Allergy Associates. com.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at:

Tim Chuey is a Member of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association and has been Awarded Seals of Approval for television weathercasting from both organizations.

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