MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- There had to be a price for Minnesota's mild winter.
Trees are producing more pollen this spring after much of the state experienced mild temperatures and precipitation this winter.
"It's nowhere near the worst it's ever been, but it's definitely going to be a severe tree pollen season, much more severe than last year," said Dennis Gebhard, president of the local office of Multidata, a company that tracks pollen levels nationally.
Tree pollen is one of the main culprits of spring allergies. It normally builds gradually through April and May.
But the cold temperatures last month slowed pollen production for junipers, cedars and poplars, Gebhard and Twin Cities allergists said. And after heat and humidity over the past few days, those trees are making up for lost time.
In addition, maple, oak and elm trees, which usually release pollen later in the season, have been tricked by the warm weather into doing it now.
And tree pollen is just the start opening act of the allergy season. Next comes grass pollen, then weeds and then, in August, ragweed.
Dr. Malcolm Blumenthal, director of the University of Minnesota's Allergy and Asthma program, said it's difficult to predict whether the weather extremes will lead to bumper crops of pollen all through the summer.
Many things affect allergen levels in Minnesota, including temperatures and moisture, he said. Some allergens, including molds, like hot and humid weather. Ragweed does well in hot, dry conditions.
Allergy treatments include antihistamines, available over the counter and by prescription, as well as prescription eyedrops and nasal sprays. For people who suffer more extreme allergies, shots can help desensitize them to allergens.
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