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Ever wonder where those pollen counts come from? Meet Lynne Moon of Timber Lane Allergy & Asthma Associates in South Burlington and see how she figures out when to grab that box of tissues.
RYAN MERCER/FREE PRESS

 

Gesundheit!

If you didn’t sneeze recently, just hang on to that. Odds are you’ll need it sooner rather than later.

Vermonters are sneezing, wheezing and coping with itchy eyes at a nearly unprecedented rate during a prolonged, intense allergy season.

“It is indeed a horrible pollen season,” says allergist Dr. Betsy Jaffe, who called this year the worst she’s seen in her two decades in practice.

Trees have borne much of the blame so far, but grasses are starting to become the main source of consternation.

People started feeling the effects of tree pollen in April, said Jaffe, who practices at Timber Lane Allergy and Asthma Associates in South Burlington. Since then, she’s treated patients whose symptoms have ranged from sneezing, stuffiness and itchy eyes to those with eyes swelled shut.

“Pollen seasons are generally bad,” she said, “but I haven’t seen one like this.”

Nasal allergies affect about 50 million people in the United States, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children have allergies, statistics from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America show.

In Vermont, that would translate to roughly 150,000 adults and 52,000 children.

Why are conditions so oppressive this year? A number of factors, experts say.