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With above-normal temps, Long Island allergy season may be early

Wind is also a bad guy, as it

Wind is also a bad guy, as it blows pollen around, keeping it in the air. Rain, though, is your friend, as it moistens pollen, keeping it -- temporarily at least -- on the ground. Photo Credit: iStock

Long Islanders who are allergy sufferers can anticipate the downside of February’s above-normal temperatures: the earlier arrival of pollen.

Earlier warmth translates to an earlier start to the growing season — which means the earlier appearance of the allergy sufferer’s nemesis.

So far the month is 3.2 degrees above normal, with February 2016 2.9 degrees above the monthly average.

That means some Long Islanders may already be hearing from their allergists, advising them to get a head start on their hay fever treatment.

“It’s best to stay ahead of the itching, sneezing, drippy nose and wheezing, and begin taking medication before symptoms start,” said Dr. Luz Fonacier, section head of allergy at Winthrop-University Hospital and its training program director.

Ordinarily she asks her patients with moderate to severe conditions to make appointments for late March to discuss treatment and prescriptions, she said, which would be about two weeks before escalating pollen counts.

This year she wants to see them in early March because she anticipates symptoms will start earlier, possibly by the last week of March, she said. Still, it’s hard to make a precise call, she said, as “many variables” can affect pollen timing.

Indeed, tree “budbreak” can be influenced by many factors, said Alice Raimondo, with the horticulture diagnostic lab at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. They could include tree health and age, soil moisture and air and soil temperatures, she said.

And, for those who don’t exactly know what triggers their symptoms, Fonacier’s advice is to see an allergist to get tested, with one resource being the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology at acaai.org.

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