It’s allergy sneezon

Apr 072004
Authors: Taylour Nelson

Every spring the trees and grass turn green and flowers bloom,

producing pollen that inevitably sends some students running for


Donna Rollar, sophomore interior design major, has sneezed,

itched and coughed every year since she was five years old.

“I’m allergic to everything,” she said. “And it gets really bad

in the spring.”

Rollar said her first allergy test showed she was allergic to

mold, dust, trees, weeds, grass and dander.

Her symptoms range from sneezing and itching eyes to extreme


“It’s like drinking a whole bottle of Nyquil and trying to go to

campus,” she said of her allergy-induced lethargy.

Allergy season usually starts at the beginning of March and can

last until the first frost in the fall, said Lynn Kalert, a

registered nurse in the allergy and asthma clinic at Hartshorn

Health Service.

“First the trees start to bloom, until about Memorial Day, then

the grasses pollinate until Labor Day,” Kalert said.

After Labor Day, the weeds begin to spread their pollen until

the first frost. Some people who are allergic to all three types of

pollen can have allergy symptoms that last from spring to fall,

Kalert said.

At Hartshorn, the allergy and asthma clinic’s appointment book

begins to fill up around March, as students with seasonal allergies

begin to request allergy tests and medication.

Kalert said Hartshorn usually sends students to allergists in

Fort Collins to conduct the skin tests and develop an antigen for

the allergy shot. The student then can receive their allergy shot

at the health center.

The skin test begins with a history surrounding a patient’s

symptoms and the environments to which he/she is exposed, said Dr.

Janet Seeley, an allergist at Big Thompson Medical Group in Fort


After the evaluation, a “prick test” is performed under the skin

using small amount of the allergens and a plastic pin.

“It’s like backing into a rose bush,” Seeley said of the plastic


After 20 minutes, the area is checked for swelling or hives,

which indicates a positive result.

If the area results in a negative test for an allergen that

Seeley is suspicious the patient might have, she will perform a

blood test that can be more conclusive.

Keith Hardess, a pharmacist at Hartshorn, said he sees an

increase in allergy medication orders every spring. Hartshorn

offers a wide variety of medications that range from the $5

over-the-counter Benedryl, which can have many side effects, to

$100 doses of prescription steroid nasal spray, which has few side


Jason Sain, a senior sociology major, said his allergies

worsened when he moved to Colorado from Michigan.

“I have allergies all year long because the climate changes so

often,” he said.

Seeley said people who move to a dryer climate like Colorado’s

can have more allergy symptoms because their nose is not able to

filter out some of the ingested pollen.

Rollar, however, is able to put her year-round allergies into


“Of all the things that could be wrong with you, having

allergies is really not that big a deal,” she said.


According to the Pfizer Zyrtec pollen count (a hotline)

1-800-9-POLLEN, the Fort Collins area has a pollen count today of


Friday, pollen count of 4.3

Saturday, pollen count 2.6


Low: 0-4.0 — very few individuals who suffer from pollen

allergies will have symptoms

Medium: 4.1-8.0 — many individuals who suffer from pollen

allergies will experience symptoms

High: 8.1-12.0 — meaning most individuals with pollen allergies

will experience serve symptoms

Most common pollens in our area: maple, cedar, juniper, popple

and cottonwood.

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