Doctor: ‘Pollen tsunami’ result of delayed tree development

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Allergy season has arrived — and doctors are saying that this season might be the worst we’ve seen in years.

The trees are bursting with flowers and leaves, and the pollen is everywhere.

This year, we have sky-high pollen counts — and doctors are blaming the increased amounts on the cooler-than-average temperatures.

“A lot of the trees that produce their pollen very early in March or April were delayed,” said Dr. Russell Settipane of the Allergy and Asthma Center of Rhode Island.

And the trees that usually produce their pollen this time of year are on track, so there’s an overlap.

This, plus grass pollen, creates what Dr. Settipane is calling a “pollen tsunami.”

“We’re seeing people come in with bright red, itchy eyes. Lots of tearing, tears pouring out of their eyes, severe sneezing,” he said.

Other symptoms of seasonal allergies include congestion and difficulty sleeping. According to Dr. Settipane, those who have suffered from allergies in the past should be — ideally — already on their medications, ready to combat the pollen.

But for those who are not taking medication yet, simply limiting time outdoors should help.

Doctors also say washing your face or showering after being outside will help alleviate symptoms. Despite the warmer weather, the dry spell is only adding to the pollen problem.

“A lot of the pollen that is falling right now, if it’s not raining, it will sit on the grass. It’ll sit on the leaves, it’ll sit on the cars,” Settipane said. “When the wind stirs it up, that will just get back into the air again and again.”

While tree pollen will decrease by the end of May, grass pollen is expected to remain throughout the summer. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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