An early return of allergies in northeast Wisconsin

Appleton, Wis. (WFRV) - The return of spring-like weather to northeast Wisconsin has also brought on a return of allergies, and for many people in the area, symptoms of hay fever have already begun in February.

"I started to experience more congestion, more mucus and build up," said Elijah Kuhaupt, a student in Appleton.

So is it possible to have snow and pollen in the air at the same time? The simple answer to that question is yes.

"The earliest we've seen pollen in northeast Wisconsin to cause hay fever symptoms have been in mid to late February," said Dr. Steve Kagen of the Kagen Allergy Clinic in Appleton.

Dr. Kagen has been studying airborne allergies in Wisconsin for over three decades, and he says this year is on target to be one of the earliest times they have detected tree pollen.

When people sneeze or have allergy symptoms in winter or spring, they assume it's from the budding plants here in the area, but it turns out that's not the case.

"Cedar trees that are pollinating in Texas in January and February, that pollen can come up to Canada and hit us along the way," said Dr. Kagen.

That means when the warm spring-like air makes a northern track into Wisconsin, the wind will also carry the pollen that can give us those pesky symptoms.

More pollen early in the year could mean a more intense allergy season ahead.

"This year is going to be particularly bad for allergy sufferers for hay fever, sinus and asthma because of climate change," said Dr. Kagen. 

If you would like to track allergy symptoms and receive allergy forecasts right to your phone, click one of these links to download the official Kagen Allergy Clinic phone app for Apple or Android.

 

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