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After March's chill, allergy season expected to pick up on Long Island

On the first day of spring, snow covers

On the first day of spring, snow covers tulips outside of Hicks Nurseries on Friday, March 20, 2015 in Westbury. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

While early spring's lingering cold was unpleasant on many fronts, it can likewise be credited with delaying the start of the seasonal allergy season.

Those colder-than-normal temperatures held back some tree pollination, but with the weather now turning, pollen counts are starting to head up, said Dr. Susan Schuval, chief of the Division of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at Stony Brook Children's Hospital.

Pollen counts in areas of Long Island were in the medium-high range Monday, according to Pollen.com, a website that tracks the daily pollen count nationwide. That's on the heels of several days in the low to mid-50s.

While allergy cases have been slowly increasing, Schuval said, she expects clinics now to "get really busy," as well as hospitals, especially for those who also suffer from asthma.

Allergy symptoms can include sneezing, runny or clogged nose; itchy eyes, nose and throat; coughing; and red and watery eyes, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Indeed, the cold weather granted "a reprieve" for a season that usually starts in March, said Dr. Artemio Jongco, attending allergy and immunology physician with Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park.

Already, he's seeing more new patients at allergy clinics. Plus, with a holiday week, he said, parents are bringing their children in so they won't have to take time off from school.

Pollen counts for Tuesday and Wednesday are expected in the low range, according to Pollen.com, thanks to Tuesday's and Tuesday night's rain, which will temporarily clear pollen from the air.

Jongco said rain puts a damper on widespread pollen, keeping it closer to trees.

Indeed, rain and cold are detriments to the presence and spread of pollen, Schuval said, while warm, sunny and windy days are enhancers.

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