MINNEAPOLIS - To allergy sufferers, this week may seem like the pollen apocalypse, but it was much worse just two weeks ago. The Clinical Research Institute in the Medical Arts Building in downtown Minneapolis is the research arm of the Allergy and Asthma Specialists practice in the same building.
Each day, researchers like Jenjira Kamphitham peer into a microscope counting pollen grains gathered overnight in a Twin Cities neighborhood. Anything over 89 pollen grains per cubic meter of air is considered "high".
The pollen count on Wednesday was 151. Thursday it had jumped to 1,050. Both numbers pale by comparison to the pollen count on May 9th.
"7,000 tree pollen counts," noted Dr. Gary Berman, M.D. co-founder of the Institute and practicing physician at the Allergy and Asthma Specialists. He said the weather is the major factor in why Minnesotans feel more affected now than two weeks ago.
"We had such cold weather, that people were not outside," he said. "So, even though the pollen counts were high, we were staying inside. Now that the weather is warmer, people are getting outside and getting exposed and they are becoming very symptomatic now."
The institute researchers can even tell which type of tree is causing the most allergy distress. At the moment it is oaks, followed by mulberry. As the tree pollen threat fades, new antagonists will arrive.
"Ragweed does not come out until August 15th," said Berman. "Grass will come out in two or three weeks."
Thus, the sneezing and wheezing will continue.
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