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Early Start To Allergy Season Has Nevadans Sneezing Into Spring

Edna, Gil and Amit Cukierman, Fox Chase Cancer Center

Magnified pollen grains, the male germ cells of plants and bane to allergy sufferers.

Mild winters in Reno and Las Vegas paved the way for an early start to the 2018 allergy season.

Pollen monitors in both ends of the state have consistently registered unseasonably high counts this year, with sensitive allergy sufferers already battling symptoms.

Reno-area allergist Dr. Boris Lokshin said plants there started releasing pollen in January, and he has been treating patients since before Groundhog Day.

Reno isn't in the top 100 of the worst cities for allergy sufferers and Las Vegas ranks 53rd.

“I think in this case we’ll let Las Vegas win. That’s fine” Dr. Lokshin said.

The plants that cause the most trouble in Northern Nevada are sagebrush, juniper, and ragweed.

He recommends allergy sufferers shower after being outside for extended periods to avoid leaving pollen on pillowcases and other linens.

The doctor cautioned against overuse of decongestants, the effects of which can boomerang and leave people stuffier than they otherwise would have been.

However, he did recommend anti-histamines and if those don't work an allergy shot can work well. 

Mulberry trees, among the worst allergy offenders in Southern Nevada, should start blooming in the next week or so, said researcher Tanvi Patel, part of the Clark County School District/UNLV Pollen Monitoring Program.

The pollen monitoring team "counts every single grain," Patel said. They can then report how much is in the air. 

And an early start to allergy season doesn’t mean an early end, according to Patel, who said allergy sufferers might see symptoms until the end of June.

To make things worse, Las Vegas has two allergy seasons. The first is in the spring and the second is in the fall when weeds like ragweed bloom.


UNLV researcher Tanvi Patel, left, and Asma Tahir, head of the Clark County School District/UNLV Pollen Monitoring Program, say spring allergy season has arrived — in February./ Credit: Doug Puppel



Tanvi Patel, pollen monitoring researcher, UNLV; Dr. Boris Lokshin, Reno-area allergist 

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With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.