Severe allergies plaguing Bay Area residents

January 14, 2014 8:01:11 PM PST
People who have been sniffling and sneezing, in spite of having gotten a flu shot, might not have a cold. The Bay Area's warm winter means they may be suffering from allergies.

It was just a typical winter day where people were out jogging in shorts and t-shirts in the green of San Francisco's panhandle.

"Both my husband and I have been having really severe allergies lately and we're not really sure where it's coming from," said Alisa Grassie.

"They might start sneezing a lot. And then their eyes get itchy. And then they realize, 'this isn't a cold, I'm actually experiencing hay fever,'" said Advanced Allergy Solutions Clinical Director Denise Wood.

Advanced Allergy Solutions is a holistic allergy practice in San Francisco. Wood suspects unusually high pollen levels are the culprit behind a flood of early hay fever complaints.

"You typically are going to see that in spring. However, because of the weather, we are seeing it in January this year," said Wood.

But what may be most troubling is some experts are saying this isn't a fluke. In fact, it may just be the most extreme example of something that's been going on for a while.

"Over the past four years, each year there's been an increase," said Wood.

And this year, more than ever, Wood is seeing patients from outside San Francisco.

"A lot of people from the East Bay and from the South Bay because it has been warmer down there," said Wood.

And leftover stress from the holidays can make allergies worse.

"When our immune system is stressed, we become more susceptible to these increased amounts of pollen that are in the air," said Wood.

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