May 5, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Pollen count causes more itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing

Five-year-old Mya Kennedy, of Medina, blows dandelion “puff balls” to the winds Wednesday at the playground of St. Francis Xavier School. Good fun for kids, but all those tiny seeds — along with pollen from trees, flowers and other sprouting vegetation — are causing pain for many people with allergies. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAVID KNOX)

Anyone who has allergies is familiar with the symptoms the spring blossoms bring: itchy eyes, stuffy noses and sneezing.

But this year is especially bad.

“Typically, the folks who have tree allergies have problems in February and March and we see the grass sufferers in May,” said Dr. Andrew Chema, a family physician at Family Medicine Associates of Medina. “Because of the extended winter, we’re having a boom and everybody seems to be coming in with allergy symptoms.”

The pollen counts recorded by the Academy of Medicine of Cleveland and Northern Ohio provide a measure of the discomfort.

Tree pollen counts have been high since May 1.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology rates counts between 15 and 89 grams of pollen per cubic meter as moderate and counts between 90 and 1,499 as high.

Anything more than 1,500 is considered very high.

On Wednesday, the recorded pollen count in Cleveland jumped to 943. Pollen counts are expected to remain high into next week.

Chema said there are some things allergy suffers can do to beat the symptoms.

“Some easy things you can do without even drugs are washing your clothes in an extra rinse cycle to wash off pollens that have built up, or take a shower maybe twice a day to wash off some of the pollens,” he said.

Dr. Lisa Mementowski, a family physician at the Brunswick Family Health Center, said she’s seen an increase in the past week of patients reporting allergy symptoms.

“We’re seeing sneezing, runny nose, sinus congestion, itchy and watery eyes and drainage down the throat,” she said.

Mementowski said most people can find relief from symptoms using over-the-counter allergy medications, including Allegra, Claritin and Zyrtec. Extreme suffers also can try to avoid exposure and keep windows closed.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.