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Study ranks Madison 12th nationwide for bad allergies

New study says the city will have third-worst allergy season in the Midwest

MADISON, Wis. - Typically, the start of spring brings blooms, and with blooms come allergies. While the sneezing and itchy eyes hasn't hit hard yet, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America suggests that will not be the case this season.

The organization released its list of "Allergy Capitals" for 2013, based on pollen count, medication per patient and the number of board certified allergists.

Madison ranked 12th in the country and third in the Midwest. Last year, Madison was ranked 19th nationwide. The city has pollen counts and medication above the national average, according to the report.

Dr. Reid Olson is an allergist at Dean Clinic. He predicted this season to be normal but said allergies will hit significantly later than last year.

"It's going to come," Olson said. "Nature is very good at continuing the cycle of life. So be prepared, count on the seasons that are occurring, and watch the weather."

Weather in the south can affect allergies as well. Olson said pollen can travel up to 400 miles on a good wind current, so watching the climate elsewhere is important.

Olson in part blamed the number of nature conservancies in Madison for the high rating. He said sites such as the University of Wisconsin Arboretum produce some of the worst allergy culprits.

"Tree pollen is the most prolific pollinator that comes in the spring. That's what we'll see probably, if the weather cooperates, probably in the next couple of weeks," Olson said.

Neuhasuser Pharmacy pharmacist Bill Bowen just finished dealing with an intense flu season.


"I can almost sense it. We get about a week of warm weather, and then we get a really windy day," Bowen said. "And with that wind blows all of the prescriptions for all of the allergy medicines and all of the medications and stuff go off the shelves."

Bowen suggested patients get their prescriptions filled early and start getting that medication in their system before the symptoms get bad.

"It's been cold, so we haven't seen a lot of cold and allergy season medicines going out, but it's coming," Bowen said. "People are starting to stock up as some doctors have people starting to pre-med in the weeks prior, which this is that time to start getting ready for it."

"Actually, it takes a little bit of time for people to notice that their symptoms are back," Olson said. "They have to get to the point that they're struggling and that they probably say, 'That's enough. We need some help.'"

Milwaukee was ranked 68th in the Asthma and Allergy Foundation's study.

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