Thursday, March 19, 2015 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas allergy sufferers are in for a long week, as a high pollen forecast will continue to trigger the all-too-familiar symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, sore throat and watery eyes.
It's all part of the spring allergy season. The potent allergens in the valley air are coming from trees, said Tanvi Patel, aeroallergen monitoring coordinator at UNLV, where pollen counts are monitored daily. Because they are potent allergens that contribute to respiratory issues and can trigger asthma attacks, Clark County has prohibited the planting and selling of fruitless mulberry and European olive trees since 1991.
Weed allergen levels are low around the valley, along with grass and mold, Patel said.
Rain this past season has also affected pollen levels. With an increase in rainfall over the winter, Chris Outler of the National Weather Service says that many desert flowers are in bloom and releasing pollen. Wind can also play a role in spreading pollen. Winds are relatively low this week, in the 10-15 mph range, says Outler.
Dr. Justin Maxwell of HealthCare Partners Nevada says sufferers should address whether they have allergies, or non-allergy rhinitis. Non-allergy rhinitis has similar symptoms to allergies: sneezing, watery, itchy eyes, and runny nose. Non-allergy rhinitis is a reaction to the change in weather, humidity, cigarette-smoke, or even food allergies. These allergies can be tested by allergy panels that test what patients are reacting to. If symptoms do not go away, a skin prick test can more specifically pick up on allergens.
For those suffering from pollen allergies, Maxwell suggests going outside in the morning before pollen worsens during the afternoon and evening. Avoid opening your car windows and home windows during the day. During allergy season, make sure to clean clothes, sheets, and drapes, and other fabrics that could hold pollen.
If you are unsure if you have a virus or are suffering from allergies, Maxwell says that time is key. Viruses last up to two weeks, while allergies will persist.
Maxwell says that allergy symptoms are the No. 1 reason people have been coming to his office. Some helpful over-the-counter medicines are Allegra, Claritin and Zyrtec. For those looking for a nonmedicinal route, Maxwell suggests using a sinus wash or neti pot. Consuming a small amount of a local desert honey can also help build up a resistance to pollen. Because local honey is made from the bees pollinating flowers, a spoonful a day can work like a small immunity booster.
Adelaide Chen contributed to this story.