David B. Reath, MD
Knoxville, TN (865) 450-9253
HKB Knoxville Staff

When Being Number 1 is Something to Sneeze At

sneezeThe results are in, the polls have closed, and it’s official: Knoxville is number 1! There was fierce competition with McAllen, Texas, but in the end, with the help of the Smoky Mountains, Knoxville reigns victorious as number 1, again. You have probably heard all the whooping and hollering. No? Well perhaps what you heard was the sneezing and hacking because Knoxville has been honored with being the worst spring allergy city in the United States, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.The same phenomenon that brings us the lovely flowers, trees, and incredible variety of plant life in the Smokies is also what gives us such awful allergies.  I am told that the only place with a larger diversity of plant life than the Smokies is the Amazon (and I’m not talking about Amazon.com).  As the glaciers receded — and we are about as fall south as they came — they deposited this tremendous variety and diversity of plant life in the Smoky Mountains.  And with such diverse plant life, comes an abundance of pollen.  And with the abundance of pollen, comes the worst allergies anywhere!  Quite a distinction.

Another contributing factor is that this winter has been the fourth warmest on record. I was actually surprised that it was not the first warmest.  The azaleas are blooming,and daffodils are almost gone, and it’s not even April!  The the topography of the area with valleys and mountains, just keeps all that pollen around.  Don’t believe me?  Have a look at the hood of your car.

So stock up on your antihistamine and inhalers, get you air filters changed, and keep you tissues handy. The assault  from everything from common hackberry to Uraguayan pampasgrassis is coming your way!

Best of luck (I think we’ll all need it),

David B.

P.S.  If you have significant asthma or pulmonary disease, be very careful about exercising outside.  And, watch for days when there is an air quality alert.

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