Tuesday, September 19, 2017 Elyria 65°


County endured polar vortex, now it's the 'pollen vortex'


ELYRIA — The spring allergy season began a month later than normal, doctors say, thanks to an abnormally long, cold winter.

“We’re getting everything at one time,” said Dr. John Panuto, an allergist with E.N.T. Allergy & Health Services in Elyria.

Panuto said he normally expects patients to start coming in for nasal and respiratory allergies in late March, but this year his practice started seeing most patients coming in during the end of April.

Panuto attributes the delay to the long winter that hit Northeast Ohio, pushing summer back by at least a month.

“It was delayed this year because the winter was so long and cold,” he said.

As soon as warm weather hit, different kinds of plants started blooming at once, bringing multiple pollens with them and creating what some doctors are calling a “pollen vortex.”

That means the different kinds of pollen that cause allergies and are normally spread out through the spring and summer are becoming a problem at the same time, Panuto said.

“Instead of sequential, it’s all coming out at once,” he said.

Many patients Panuto has seen in recent weeks are children with pink eye, which turns out to be allergic conjunctivitis with similar symptoms.

While he’s treated many children, Panuto said the increase in types of pollen is affecting everyone.

“Any age group is fair game,” he said, adding that people prone to asthma attacks might have a more difficult time this summer. The influx in pollen could lead to potentially life-threatening respiratory arrests, he said.

Panuto said he doesn’t expect allergies to ease up through the summer because the long winter has changed the growing pattern for plants through August.

Instead, he said, people should take preventive measures like medication before they even leave the house.

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerriman.

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