Utah is a beautiful state full of ecological diversity, outdoor activities and abundant recreational opportunities. However, contrary to the popular notion of decreased allergy and improved respiratory issues in the dry Intermountain West, we find that many people suffer with more allergy problems in Utah and the surrounding areas than many other parts of the country. This is due in part to the presence of similar pollen exposure as we would experience in other parts of the country plus the pollens that are more unique to the Intermountain West such as sagebrush and Juniper. That is why we hear the term “Utah Allergies” so often.
The air-quality also seems to play a major role. Unfortunately, the Wasatch front is plagued by less than optimal air quality throughout much of the year. This seems to contribute to both allergy and asthma problems, along with many other health issues. It is clear that poor air quality may worsen the inflammatory effects of pollen exposure thus increasing the difficulty we see with asthma, chronic sinus problems as well as nasal and eye allergy issues.
In spite of these problems, with appropriate treatment, asthma and allergy problems can be well-controlled, thus allowing restoration of quality-of-life. By keeping the allergies well-controlled we can restore people’s ability to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us in the state of Utah without struggling from “Utah allergies”.
While air quality impacts all of us, people with chronic diseases often have more trouble when the air quality is poor. In the Wasatch Front area of Utah, especially in the Salt Lake Valley, air quality tends to be at its worst during inversions. This is especially problematic in the winter. We often see worsening of respiratory conditions, such as asthma, during times of poor air quality.
Being aware of the air quality can help guide outdoor activities, specially for people with chronic conditions. The link below is the AirNow Website, which provides up to date information on out air quality.
Plant pollens blowing in the air are a cause of allergy and allergic asthma symptoms in people who are allergic to those pollens. Being aware of the pollen counts can help a person understand what is causing their symptoms and can help guide treatment. We can predict what times of the year we are most likely to be exposed to pollens. For example, in the spring we tend to be exposed to high amounts of tree pollens. Grasses tend to have a long pollen season, with pollens increasing in the late spring and reaching high levels throughout the summer and much of the fall. Weed pollens can be present in small amounts in the spring, with increasing pollen counts in the summer. However, the primary season for weed pollens is the late summer and fall.