It is a rough time of year for allergies in southwest Oklahoma and one Lawton doctor says it isn’t going to get much better in the immediate future.
Doctor Dale Smith with the Allergy Ear Nose and Throat Institute said Oklahoma is not the best place to live if you have allergies.
"Our allergy season starts in late December and ends about the 10th of November when we get our first freeze. So, we have a very, very long season. Now, if you lived in upstate New York and were allergic to the same type of thing, you might be symptomatic from the end of May until the end of September. So, we have a very long season here,” Smith said.
That season kicks off at the end of December with the pollination of mountain cedar trees.
"A lot of times when you look out over the mountains and you see that stuff that looks like fog out there, that’s mountain cedar pollen. Before you say we need to cut down all the trees in our yard, remember that stuff travels 100 miles in the wind. It’s coming from Texas,” Dr. Smith said.
The next round of allergies kicks off in the spring as the grass starts to green.
"It starts to pollinate, and a lot of people will say I know I’m allergic to grass because I go out to mow my grass and I’ve just got terrific symptoms but that isn’t always grass pollen. A lot of times that’s the mold that’s in the thatch of the grass. They’re kicking up that mold and a lot of times they’re allergic to that mold when they mow their grass and have symptoms,” Dr. Smith said.
The allergies flare up even more when we see significant rainfall, but Dr. Smith said it actually happens before the storm even hits.
"The barometric pressure changes, it actually falls and when that happens, teleologically, mold believes it’s in danger so it has a tendency to sporulate at that time so the spores are released prior to the storm,” Dr. Smith said.
While you may be showing the symptoms of allergies -- runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing, just to name a few -- Dr. Smith said you may not actually be suffering from allergies.
"There are other things that cause that other than true allergies. Something called vasomotor or non-allergic rhinitis and that’s where we’re sensitive to perfumes and tobaccos and wood smokes and diesel fumes and potpourris and scented candles and barometric pressure changes and the wind. So as these things blow and we have pollutants that come in and irritate the inside of our nose, it mimics allergy symptoms,” Dr. Smith said.
In addition, Dr. Smith said there are issues, such as acid reflux, that mimic the symptoms of allergies and lead you to believe the issue is simpler than it actually is.