Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday the 13th Starts with Dangerously High Pollen Count

MELROSE PARK, Ill. -- Chicago’s tree pollen count reached 1,500 today, triggering a dangerous air quality warning. "Today’s tree pollen count is the highest of the season, and the highest in at least three years," said Dr. Joseph Leija, an allergist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of the Loyola University Health System. “Itchy eyes, stuffy noses and fatigue will be common among Chicagoans with sensitive respiratory systems.” Dr. Leija, a regional allergy expert, warned those with tree pollen allergies to avoid eating apples, celery, peaches, pears, cherries, hazelnuts and plums. "The proteins in these produce mimic pollen proteins and can create reactions that will worsen symptoms," said Dr. Leija, who is certified by the National Allergy Bureau to perform the official allergy count for the Midwest. “The late spring warm-up, rain, the barometric pressure change – all these elements combine to create the dangerously high tree pollen count now when the tree pollen count would typically be dropping,” he said of this morning’s unusual count. “Allergy sufferers should stay indoors, keep the windows closed, use their air conditioners and take their allergy medications.” Every weekday morning, Dr. Leija climbs the stairs to the rooftop of Gottlieb Memorial Hospital where he maintains a special pollen-catching machine. He carries the specimens to his office and examines them under a microscope to formulate the count. Nationally, allergies cost businesses more than $250 million in lost work time and patients spend more than $3.4 billion in medicines and doctors' fees, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. "Elm, mulberry, oak, maple - the cold winter and cold spring made trees dormant, but the recent warm weather has them beautifully green and leafy almost overnight. It’s almost pure poison to many with sensitive systems," Dr. Leija said. Normally the tree pollen declines as the grass pollens escalate. "This high tree count, the moderate grass, mold and even rising weed counts are creating a quadruple threat to allergy sufferers," said Dr. Leija. "Patients aren't even bothering to make an appointment - they just show up in the office, sniffling, sneezing and rubbing their eyes in pure misery." Dr. Leija's Top Tips for Easy Breathing: - Rinse your nose. "Use saline solution to rinse the inner nostrils to remove trapped particles." - Limit outdoor exposure. "Trees are outside, not inside. Stay indoors to minimize exposure." - Close windows. "Resist the lure of fresh spring air and protect the quality of your indoor air." - Run the air conditioner. "Air conditioners dehumidify air and also act as a filter to trap particles." - Wash your hair. "Hair traps pollen and allergens and brings them close to the nose; wash your hair after being outdoors to get rid of noxious allergens." - Change clothes. "Leave your shoes and bags outside the home, and change your clothes after being outdoors and place them in a resealable bag."

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.