It's on, allergy sufferers. Especially if you're sensitive to tree pollen.
Pollen counts are predicted to soar for the rest of this week as temperatures hit the mid-60s through most of the Puget Sound region on Wednesday and potentially 70 degrees on Thursday and Friday.
Pollen count is predicted to be "very high" Thursday through Sunday, according to the Northwest Asthma & Allergy Center.
Seattle-area allergy experts say that once your allergies are activated -- and apparently Western Washington is one of the best places to discover whether you're allergic to tree pollen -- you take a deep breath on a beautiful spring day like Wednesday and instantly your mast cells jump into action.
"The key feature of allergies and our immune system in general is also the reason they are persistent and frustrating," said Dr. Jakob von Moltke, an assistant professor of immunology at the UW School of Medicine. "You can go a whole winter without any issues, and then your immune system is triggered in seconds."
And allergists say the masks many people are wearing lately haven't really mitigated pollen allergy symptoms: sneezing, runny noses, postnasal drip, and itchy, puffy, watery eyes. (That said, you should wear one when you're out in public, to protect yourself and others from the novel coronavirus -- especially if you're sneezing, which launches your germs into the air.)
"If there is a difference (for allergy sufferers during the pandemic), it may be because people are not walking around outside a lot and are staying indoors, which is what we recommend," said Dr. Lahari Rampur, a UW Medicine allergy and immunology professor.
It can help to keep your windows closed, said Dr. Scott Itano, medical center chief at Kaiser Permanente Northgate Medical Center.
Most plants release their pollen in the middle of the night, so leaving windows open at night -- as many people do when the weather gets warm -- is one of the "worst things you can do," he said. "Then, you will be allergic inside and outside your house."
And if you are taking medicine to combat allergies, such as allergy pills and nasal steroid sprays, Itano recommends taking it at night before bed to help suppress the allergic reaction before it happens.