Weather Forecast


Allergy cases already popping in local clinics


The splendor of spring can be miserable for seasonal allergy sufferers.

Coughing, sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes… allergens are here.

“It is usually the mold from under the snow that is bothersome first,” said Dr. Paul Bergstrand of Alexandria Clinic; he specializes in family, allergy and asthma medicine.

Then, he said, that’s followed by tree pollen, grass and weeds.

“We really have been seeing quite a few people with significant allergy symptoms already this spring,” Bergstrand told the Echo Press.

About 8 percent of U.S. adults suffer from seasonal allergies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Joshua Eken of Sanford Clinic Alexandria specializes in family medicine and said they’re also starting to see allergy cases pop up.

“As the grass starts growing and flowers start to bloom, we will undoubtedly see more,” he said.

Locally, as of April 30, pollen concentrations in the air from trees, like poplar, elm and maple, were moderate and ragweed pollen concentrations were low.

The weather forecast calls for warmer, drier conditions this weekend and tree pollen levels are expected to remain moderate this weekend.

A number of websites, especially weather websites, give an “allergy forecast” that include pollen counts that can help some people be better prepared for when their seasonal allergies are going to act up, Eken added.


Treating allergies is all about controlling symptoms, the doctors advised.

“If over-the-counter measures are helpful enough, generally there is no need to see a doctor,” Bergstrand said.

“Using a salt water nose wash to rinse out as much of the offending allergen as possible can be helpful.,” he added. “[It] should be done on a regular and consistent basis, much like brushing teeth.”

However, Bergstrand said, “If symptoms are miserable such as trouble with breathing, trouble with eyes, trouble sleeping, etc., then seeing a doctor can be helpful. Progressing to fever or really feeling quite ill is also another reason to see a doctor. Severe facial pain can often signify a progression to sinuses.”

Eken said, “I encourage people with seasonal allergies to start with an antihistamine if they have occasional bothersome symptoms such as itchy, red eyes or nasal congestion. For itchy eyes, some people find relief with saline eye drops or other [over-the-counter] eye drops. For nasal congestion, people can find relief with saline nasal sprays or washes. Also, there is now a nasal steroid that is available [over-the-counter].”

He said allergy sufferers who try the over-the-counter remedies but do not get reasonable control of their symptoms should see their doctor.

“Also, I would advise those people with components of asthma, shortness of breath, or wheezing, to see their doctor. There are a few very good options in terms of prescription medications to help get better control of symptoms if the [over-the-counter] medications don’t do the job,” Eken said.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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