MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Floridians may have snickered poolside during last winter’s polar vortex—but no one seems to be gloating now.
As it turns out, the polar vortex has spawned pollen vortex and, as CBS4’s Brian Andrews explains, even people who have never had allergies are suffering now.
It seems there are not enough ‘bless yous’ to keep up with the spike in allergy sufferers this year, many of whom are experiencing allergy symptoms for the very first time.
“Never had allergies. Not once growing up, just now recently,” said Adrian Blanco, a first time allergy sufferers.
Blanco’s job as a construction project manager means that he is constantly outside—which wasn’t an issue until spring sprung.
“I would wake up very congested in the mornings. I was waking up with my eyes puffy and watery and I’d have sneezing attacks which I’d never had before,” said 35-year-old Blanco.
Desperate for answers, Blanco is being skin tested for allergies at the office of Dr. Kathryn Eisermann-Rogers.
“It’s going to be a long, hard season for most allergic people,” said allergist Dr. Eisermann-Rogers.
What the allergist is referring to is how the winter’s polar vortex whipped and whirled its way into a tidal wave of pent up pollen—also known as the pollen vortex.
“It’s crazy. I washed my car the other day and the next day it had a coating of pollen. I mean I’ve never seen it so bad—ever!” said Blanco.
Because of the exceptionally harsh winter created by the polar vortex, snow and ice stayed on the ground until April and the onset of spring was delayed. Trees didn’t pollenate gradually, but instead exploded all at once, just as the grass allergy season was beginning. And now, the already brutal-for-some spring allergy season may extend well into summer this year.
“I’m seeing little kids that are three, four, five years of age coming in with their eyes burning and watering and tearing and shutting down and the nose sneezing. We never saw that 10-years-ago,” said Dr. Eisermann-Rogers.
Even the allergist’s daughter is not immune from the pollen vortex.
“You know I’ll wake up in the morning absolutely miserable. I’ll have itchy, watery eyes, my throat will be itchy, my nose, I start sneezing and to be honest I’m just really lethargic in the morning,” said Natalie Eisermann-Rogers, “Just feeling lousy overall.”
Natalie, a college student, had been allergy-free most of her life but after she underwent a skin test, even her mother, the allergist, was slack jawed.
“Low and behold this girl now has severe pollen allergies! Never had that before. You name it, grass pollen, oak tree, ragweed—she got it!” said Dr. Eisermann-Rogers.
Soon Dr. Eisermann-Rogers will start her daughter on allergy shots.
Meanwhile, Adrian Blanco has tested negative for allergies in both his skin test intradermal injection tests and is waiting for a diagnosis.
If you are suddenly experiencing allergy symptoms, there are some things allergists say you can do:
• first see a doctor and find out what you are allergic to
• over-the-counter medications are simply bandaids.
• avoid outdoor activities in the morning when the pollen count is high
• shower and wash your hair before going to bed to avoid contaminating bed sheets with pollen
Blanco, after waiting, received his results and was diagnosed with something called vasomotor rhinitis, which means he is not allergic to anything in particular, but his allergist told him that the increase in the outdoor pollen this summer is contributing to his symptoms.
Blanco was prescribed Nasonex which is used to treat seasonal outdoor allergies and was told to flush out his sinuses to minimize the effects from the pollen vortex.