Spring allergies plague Utah: tips to survive the pollen invasion

Late snows led to late blooms, which led to a historic allergy season. Some trees are still in bloom at BYU’s Karl G. Maeser Building quad. (Emma Everett)

Allergy season is hitting the Wasatch Front full-force this spring, and some are experiencing symptoms for the first time.

Pre-business student Jorgen Olsen reported two weeks of uncomfortable allergy symptoms, including a runny nose and constant sneezing. He said this was the first year he has suffered from seasonal allergies.

“I just kind of dealt with it,” he said. “I would take an allergy pill every once in a while, whenever it was really bad.”

If he could do it differently, he would have gone to a doctor earlier in the season, he said.

“I was too lazy and stubborn,” Olsen said. “It probably would have helped if I had taken stronger medicine.”

Dr. Christopher Gordon, a Provo-based allergist-immunologist, said a late bloom season may have contributed to the more severe symptoms residents are experiencing this year. 

“It’s pretty bad this year, anecdotally,” Gordon said. “People have said their allergies are worse than they’ve been in the last few years.”

Utah’s allergy season peaks around late spring and early summer, he said. Locals may still have symptoms for several weeks.

Gordon has worked as an allergist since 2017, often treating more severe or specialized cases. For new or mild symptoms, he said he has some general rules.

“Keep your windows closed, shower after you spend time outside so you wash off pollen and potential triggers, wear masks while mowing the lawn, wear appropriate clothing and follow general hygiene principles,” he said.

For some students, the return of BYU grounds crews means the return of potential allergens. Dr. Christopher Gordon recommends limiting outdoor time or wearing a mask to reduce allergic symptoms. (Emma Everett)

Even for allergy veterans, this season has been particularly challenging. BYU computer science student Kaitlin Mehl said this year she is taking a double dose of allergy medication to compensate for the intense environmental triggers.

Mehl said she typically takes a daily dose of Claritin or Zyrtec or uses a nose spray. She drinks lots of water, washes her face and takes a nightly dose of Benadryl. She sometimes still experiences symptoms.

“My advice is to stay on top of it,” she said. “I used to just take a daily Zyrtec when I started to feel the symptoms, but then I had to wait for it to kick in.”

It’s best to create a treatment routine, Mehl explained. However, it helps if others are sympathetic to those struggling with seasonal allergies, she said.

“For some people, it really is super frustrating and scary if you’re having an allergy attack,” she said. “If someone asks to close the window, it usually means it’s pretty serious, so just take them seriously.”

For more information about daily local pollen and allergen levels, click here.

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