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Allergies in Florida: Tampa Bay area suffering from early, high pollen count

5:19 PM, Jan 28, 2013   |    comments
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Pollen covers the windshield of a car.
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- You can see the yellow dust build up on cars that have been parked outside even for a short time. It's a combination of oak, maple and pine pollen.

For a lot of people around the Bay area, it's more than just a nuisance. Take for example, David Hiatt, visiting his allergy doctor today for a shot.

"I have an allergy to everything. Ha ha ha, I do!" laughed Hiatt.

But the suffering he and others have endured for the past few weeks is no joke.

The aerial assault of pollen, said Dr. Patrick Klemawesch, an allergy specialist in St. Petersburg, is the unseasonably warmer weather we've been seeing. It has flowers and trees releasing pollen weeks earlier than usual.

"Usually that's an omen that we're gonna have a really heavy pollen season," said Dr. Klemawesch, "and so far that's been the case."

Klemawesch has a good feel for what the culprit is, because he has a contraption behind his office that collects samples.

Under a microscope, he can see the pollen that collected on a glass slide. These days it's taking just minutes to build-up.

"That's brand new," says Dr. Klemawesch, pointing to the results in his microscope. "We just put it up an hour or two ago."

Dr. Klemawesch suggests people suffering to stay indoors and run the A/C to filter the air. It's fine, he says to try home remedies and over the counter medicines like Claritin and Allegra.

He even recommends saline spray to keep nasal passages clear.

But if symptoms persist, he says it's probably a good idea to see a doctor.

Margaret Dickey, stepping out of her allergist's office on Monday, says thank goodness she finally did just that. Without treatment, "I might be in the hospital," she said.

What might help, say experts, is if we could get a little rain in the forecast to wash some of the pollen out of the air.

That would be good news.

The bad news, says Dr. Klemawesch, is that even though this season started much earlier than usual, there is no guarantee that it will end any earlier than usual.