From Polar Weather to Pollen Woes

| 17 Feb 2015 | 01:11

The long, brutal winter we endured has created a pollen-heavy summer, causing major problems for allergy sufferers

Upper East Side Although we have all been enjoying the long awaited end to this winter's polar vortex, the city hasn't completely escaped extreme weather troubles. While trapped under the relentless cold and inches of snow, trees were forced to remain dormant. Now, those trees will be producing record-breaking amounts of pollen, a major concern for New Yorkers living with asthma and other respiratory problems.

High temperatures and humidity are to be expected in New York during summer months, but the fact that trees are producing much more pollen than usual is cause for alarm.

Eula Lawrence is a Home Health Aide for Partners in Care, a home care agency providing assistance to seniors since 1983. She offered some tips to pollen proof your home as much as possible.

Although it can be difficult, the best way to avoid an asthma attack, serious sinuous infection, or other respiratory issues, Lawrence said, "is really to stay inside, especially during the hottest parts of the day." It is also helpful to keep your windows shut during the high pollen hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Air conditioners with clean filters can help block out pollen from the inside of your home.

Take advantage of the spring-cleaning tradition and get rid of any unnecessary clutter, because a messy home offers many places for dust, bugs, mold, and mice to habitate. Recycle old newspapers, magazines, cans, and grocery bags weekly. Washing your bedding at higher heat can also rid your bedroom of any extra pollen as well. Lawrence also explained that it is important to keep an eye on your houseplants. Get rid of any moldy leaves immediately, and don't let water pool in the pot's tray.

Since you don't want to stay stuck in your apartment and miss out on all of the fun the city has to offer during summer months, there are also ways to reduce any pollen aggravation. "Cover up with a hat of some kind, or handkerchief to block the pollen and heat," said Lawrence. "If you have an inhaler or nebulizer, it is so important to bring those things with you when leaving your apartment." Upper East Side resident Laurie Manning has been living asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for most of her adult life, and this year's fierce pollen vortex landed her in the hospital for almost a full week. Escaping the pollen is extremely difficult for Manning since she has lived within a few blocks from Central Park for the past 24 years. Eula Lawrence was assigned to Manning as her at home health aide in 2012 after a surgery for her COPD.

"This weather can make it difficult for me to walk down the block, but Eula always helps remind me to take my medicine, and even exercise a little bit," she said. Manning uses many of the suggestions listed earlier to help her get through the pollen filled months, but she also makes sure to bring her walker with her in case she gets short of breath, and drink a lot of water to stay hydrated.

"It is always hard after leaving the hospital because you are on their schedule, and you get the right food and your medicine at the right time," Manning explained. "Eula helps me during the week and makes it possible for me to stay on the right schedule so that I stay healthy."

Her at home healthcare has played an important role in her recovery from surgery in 2012, and more recently her asthma attack that hospitalized her this spring. Manning's health concerns may be more demanding than some but it is important to stay up to date with your own health risks during months with more extreme weather.

You can visit a number of websites to research the effects pollen may have on your allergies or asthma this summer. Visit for updates on pollen levels in your area.