Wet winter points to higher spring pollen count in the Tahoe Basin | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Wet winter points to higher spring pollen count in the Tahoe Basin

Due to a wetter-than-normal winter, high spring pollen counts are expected in Lake Tahoe.

Snow is melting and flowers are blossoming, meaning one thing: Pollen armageddon is nigh.

As Tahoe residents well know, during late spring each year yellow dust from pine trees coats everything from the ground to cars and humans themselves. And with the region's record winter, which filled Big Blue well above its natural rim, it looks like South Shore can expect more pollen than usual this season.

"The wet winter has brought on some impressive plant growth, which leads to more pollen and more allergies," said Dr. Ronald Roth of Barton Health's ear, nose and throat department. "I expect there will be more people with allergies. The palette of allergy sources will remain the same, but will likely be more intense."

Pollen season officially begins in the spring and lasts until fall, with common regional ailments coming from a surplus of pine pollen, sagebrush and grass — which, Roth noted, are most intense during June and July.

According to The Weather Channel's online allergy tracker, South Lake Tahoe's pollen count — a number determined by pollen grains per cubic meter — currently sits at moderate (meaning the amount will generate allergy symptoms for some people), but is forecasted to reach high levels in the middle of next week.

"For those prone to intense allergies, they should start over-the-counter medications before the allergy season starts," Roth explained.

These remedies include Zyrtec, Claritin, Nasacort and Flonase, which all provide relief from allergy symptoms.

"I also recommend people wash their hair at night after a day of exposure to pollen in the air. This way the pollen doesn't get trapped in the pillow and aggravate sinuses during the evening.

"For those with forced air and heating systems, it helps to replace the air filter every four to six months," Roth said.

Additional information about pollen season and suggestions for how to beat it are available online at http://www.bartonhealth.org.