UPDATE: Allergists monitor pollen counts, study new allergy trea - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Allergists monitor pollen counts, study new allergy treatments

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MADISON (WKOW) -- As the weather warms trees will start budding, which means allergy sufferers will start feeling it.

The cold winter kept allergens at bay longer than usual this year, but the pollen has now spread.

Madison always ranks highly on the list of the 100 most challenging places to live with allergies. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ranked Madison 42nd worst in 2014, that's down from 12th last year. The cities are ranked based on pollen count, rate of allergy medicine use and ratio of allergists to patients.

This week the National Allergy Bureau reports a high concentration of tree pollens here in Madison. Grass allergens are at low concentrations.

That data comes from researchers at UW Hospital. The team is one of three in Wisconsin tracking pollen counts. Associate researcher Rose Vrtis goes up to the roof of the hospital every morning to collect samples from a device that gathers pollen in the air.

"It's like a little plastic toothpick and I put a little grease on it and it spins," says Vrtis. "Any particles that are in the air are going to stick to that rod."

It spins for 30 seconds once every 10 minutes, running 24 hours a day. Right now, it's picking up just about every tree pollen that grows in our area, which is hitting allergy sufferers hard.

Dr. Mark Moss is also a researcher at UW's Allergy and Immunology department and he treats patients at the clinic. Just in the past week, appointments for the next few months have completely filled up with people looking for relief from their itching and sneezing.

Moss says the pollen count provides doctors throughout the area with a reliable, real-time way to predict patient symptoms. Plus, they use it to guide research studies.

Right now, the researchers are testing a version of allergy immunotherapy just approved by the FDA. It's a pill used to treat severe aversions to certain allergens without having to go in to the clinic for routine shots.

"There's been nothing like this available up until now and it's approved right now for grass and ragweed allergy," says Moss. "With some hope, we'll see this expand to include dust mite allergy, and potentially there's interest in pet allergy."

The pill would have to be taken regularly. Some doctors say it's limiting, because many people aren't just allergic to one thing, but it can have good results.

Dr. Reid Olson at Dean Clinic says some of his patients are involved in a clinical trial to test another new form of immunotherapy, that is given less often than shots and applied to the skin like a TB test, rather than injected. Olson says it could be more effective than traditional treatments.

Olson recommends allergy sufferers see their doctor if they're having problems right now. You can pick up some over the counter medications like antihistamines to relieve symptoms and try to keep the pollen out of your home.

"When the weather warms up everybody wants to throw their windows open and bask in all the fresh air but if you're really allergic I would advise keeping the windows still closed," says Olson.

If you have an air conditioner you should run it, even if it's not too hot, just turn off the cold air and run the filter. You can also set up a fan to blow air out of the home to cool it down. 

UW is looking for subjects to take part in a dust mite study involving the pill form of immunotherapy. If you're allergic to dust mites, call the Allergy and Asthma Research Clinic at (608) 263-6049 for more information on how to participate.


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MADISON (WKOW) -- As the weather warms trees will start budding, which means allergy sufferers will start feeling it.

The cold winter kept allergens at bay longer than usual this year, but that could lead to a bad allergy season now.

Madison always ranks highly on the list of the 100 most challenging places to live with allergies. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ranked Madison 42nd worst in 2014, that's down from 12th last year. The cities are ranked based on pollen count, rate of allergy medicine use and ratio of allergists to patients.

This week the National Allergy Bureau pollen report finds a high concentration of tree pollens here in Madison, including oak, ash and poplar trees as of May 6. Grass allergens are at low concentrations.

Tonight on 27 News at 5 & 6, Jennifer Kliese will share what's new in allergy treatments this year and show us how the pollen count station, located at the UW Medical School, works.

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