WINSTON-SALEM, NC -- You've been coughing, sneezing, itching, blowing your nose and feeling congested this allergy season. You've heard people speculate that this must be the 'worst allergy season ever' in the Triad, but is it true? And does an old wives take really work to ease the misery?
WFMY News 2's Meghann Mollerus worked to verify whether the claims are true. Let's start with allergy season.
Is this allergy season one of the worst-ever in the Triad?
To verify, we used a credible source -- the source of Triad pollen counts. The Forsyth County Office of Environmental Assistance and Protection (EAP) has measured and recorded Triad pollen data for 21 years. Rob Russ is one of the agency's senior environmental specialists, who gave us the data and some insight.
►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the WFMY News 2 App now.
The data dates back to 1997. It shows this spring was the third-highest average on record for tree pollen, the second-highest on record for grass pollen and the third-highest on average for weed pollen. Most years, these three pollen sources peaked in April and May.
But, not everyone with spring allergies felt the same effects.
"The allergic reaction people have to pollens is specific to that kind of pollen in that individual -- just like someone might be allergic to peanuts, someone (else) might be allergic to cats," said Russ.
So, will next allergy season be as bad? Turns out, that's not as simple to verify.
"We don't really have a good way to predict. We're often asked that. There are a couple factors. One is a botany question -- what's going on with the plants? Are they producing a lot of flowers that then might produce the wind-born pollen?" Russ explained.
Is this allergy season one of the worst-ever in the Triad? We can verify the claim is true. The good news -- we're on the tail end of it, so you should feel some relief soon.
It's an old wives tale -- honey cures allergies. Some allergy sufferers swear it works, because bees pollinate flowers and make honey. So, people believe if you eat local honey, you'll be immune to pollen allergies.
Does eating local honey cure allergies?
To verify, we talked to a Forsyth County senior environment specialist Rob Russ. We also reviewed a medical study from the University of Connecticut and a medical study from Eastern Malaysia.
The Malaysian study gave one group of allergy sufferers one graham of their body weight of honey for eight weeks. The other group got a placebo. The group that got the honey did get allergy relief, and the study concluded that ingesting honey at a high dose over several weeks can relieve (but not cure) allergies.
The Connecticut study gave one group of allergy sufferers a tablespoon of local honey for a certain amount of time. The other group got a placebo. Neither group experienced symptom relief, and the study could not conclude that local honey relieves allergies.
Russ explained why, saying, "When we talk about people being allergic to pollen, we're typically talking about being allergic to wind pollen that gets blown off flowers, not the kind of pollen that's on plants that gets transported from flower-to-flower by an insect, like a bee."
So, does ingesting local honey cure allergies? We can verify that's false. But, it can ease symptoms, if you ingest a lot of it over a long period of time. Just make sure you consult your physician or allergist first.