Did allergy season start earlier this year?

By Bryan Richardson

Q: Has the mild winter contributed to an earlier allergy season?

A: Yes, but it hasn’t necessarily driven more people to clinics. Heather Martin, allergy nurse at Inspire ENT & Pulmonology, said the start of pollen season varies year to year.

She said it started around the third week of January this year, which is earlier than the mid-February start in 2016. That was also a mild winter.

“Things are definitely blooming sooner than normal,” Martin said. “People are needing to start their allergy medications sooner than usual.”

In terms of the number of patients, Martin said it’s been about the same.

Lafene Health Center director Jim Parker said there isn’t any data from the center’s allergy clinic that indicates an increase in patients because of the mild winter.

Even if there was an increase, Parker said it would be hard to determine whether the cause was allergy season starting sooner or K-State having more students needing allergy treatment.

“Someone could potentially make that correlation,” he said. “But it’s challenging to be accurate.” Lafene’s clinic doesn’t have allergists who work with students. Instead, it is staffed by nurses who provide continued care for students requiring allergy immunotherapy after an initial dose from their allergists.

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