Just as flu cases start to fall, Grand Valley residents may still be worrying about itchy eyes and runny noses. March is coming up soon, and that's when allergy season starts to pick up. And with the lack of snow here in Grand Junction, you may have to keep the tissue box ready as we see early signs of allergens.
"They don't affect me until summer; summer is usually when dust is in the air, the dry sage and hay” said Bailey Smith, allergy sufferer.
Smith is lucky she isn't among those who will find themselves searching for solutions when spring rolls around. We're about a month out but allergy experts say the spring allergy season is already starting to bloom in the Grand Valley.
“Juniper has already started to pollinate; trees tend to pollinate early spring, especially with our mild climate" said Bridget Eckley of the Allergy and Asthma Center in Grand Junction.
Plants may be starting early, but air quality specialists with the Mesa County Health Department don't officially start observing the pollen count until March 1st. Still, they usually have a good grasp on what to expect.
“Generally we can forecast out a little bit in advance but not too far, although we do know the general trends to expect every year" said Edward Brotsky, Air Quality Specialist at Mesa County Health Department.
In the meantime, if you're already feeling symptoms experts say there are some over the counter preventions to help keep you from itching those eyes and feeling the effects.
Eckley said, "antihistamines which are mostly over the counter that is your Zyrtec, Allergra, and Claritin, those will be good, anything is better to prevent than for you to catch up."
As for Smith she recommends a natural solution to all that sniffling.
"For some of my allergies I put honey in my coffee each morning, and if they are really bad, I will eat a spoonful of honey, which helps"
Allergists say last year was an exceptionally bad one with smoke from the wild fires adding to the mix. While experts don't have a specific forecast for this season, they say it's always a little bit worse on our side of the state because it's warmer here and allergens tend to stick around longer.
If you want to keep track of air quality and what allergens might be bothering you, the health department has an air quality information line you can call for an allergy report.
Also if you're interested in tracking the pollen count online, the health department's environmental page has that information, we posted a link below.