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New England, Some Other Regions in Grips of Allergies

May 29, 1996

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ Allergy sufferers in New England are wheezing through one of the worst springs in recent years.

Some doctors believe the cold April delayed pollen production in trees, making it overlap more with the later season for grass pollen. Others blame the hot, dry weather of May, which allowed more pollen to spread in the air.

``I’m not always a bad allergy person, but this year I’m having more redness of the eyes,″ Anne Cosgrove said at a Springfield drug store.

Also suffering is much of the New York metropolitan area and the Midwest.

They were even grabbing tissues at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, based in Milwaukee.

``It seems as though allergy season is coming into full swing. I’m starting to sneeze, and our office is starting to sneeze,″ said staffer Anita Odle.

Usually allergy sufferers in New England don’t have such a rough time because of the region’s cooler temperatures and proximity to the ocean.

Last May, in fact, only 13 percent of the New England pollen count was high. No pollen from grass or weeds turned up anywhere. This year, during the week of May 24, 54 percent of categories counted _ trees, grasses, weeds, molds _ were either high or very high.

During the same week in the New York metropolitan area, 42 percent of the count was either high or very high.

In the Midwest, grass, weeds and molds were under control. But more than half of the stations had high or very high readings for tree pollen _ the main allergy culprit in early spring.

By contrast, only 14 percent of the pollen count was high or very high in the West.

An estimated 35 million Americans suffer from coughing, headaches and other symptoms of seasonal allergies.

Doctors say antihistamines, nasal sprays and eye drops help many sufferers. Some find relief in air conditioning and closed windows at night. For the heavily affected, year-round allergy shots may be needed.

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