Sneezing? Coughing? Feeling a slight tickle in your throat? There’s a reason: Tree pollen is upon us.
The Tampa Bay region is in the midst of a “very severe” allergy season, said Dr. Richard Lockey, an allergist and distinguished health professor at the University of South Florida.
“People are having all sorts of problems,” he said, naming hay fever, watery eyes and wheezing as among the symptoms.
Experts cast much of the blame on oak trees, which have been pollinating since late December. As a result, the air is now thick with irritants that can leave even non-allergy suffers feeling uncomfortable.
“We live in a virtual oak forest,” Lockey said. “We have 11 different species of oak, and they bloom one right after another.”
Oak trees aren’t the only flora releasing pollen into the air. Cedar and cypress trees are also in bloom, Lockey said. And if you live near the beaches, add Australian pine trees to the list of possible offenders.