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Some tree pollen and mold spores already in the air

Gottlieb Allergy Count starts new season

MAYWOOD, Ill. (March 31) – Two beloved institutions, the start of baseball season and the Gottlieb Allergy Count, officially began on Monday, March 31.

“Chicagoans who suffer from mold and tree allergies will be down for the count today,” said Dr. Joseph Leija, who conducts the daily allergy count for the Midwest on the behalf of the National Allergy Bureau. “Itchy eyes and post-nasal drip are what many will be experiencing."

The official count for the first day of allergy reporting season is trees-low and mold-low.
“Last year at this time, we reported three times the tree pollen due to the early spring warm-up,” said Leija, who has been monitoring the air every day for the past week to prepare for the start of the allergy count. Today’s tree count recorded mostly oak and maple pollen.

Dr. Leija is predicting a bad allergy season due to the long cold winter, which brought heavy snow counts.  “The polar vortex will likely cause a pollen vortex, with mold, tree and even grass pollen being recorded simultaneously due to a final break in the weather and all the nourishing moisture,” said Dr. Leija, who has performed the Gottlieb Allergy Count for more than two decades.

“Preventive measures, such as keeping windows closed to preserve air quality and proactively taking allergy medication with the guidance of a certified allergist, will help maintain and improve health,” Dr. Leija said. “If you’re sneezing and itching, you’re having allergy symptoms."

Dr. Leija, an allergist, retired in 2012. However, he continues to conduct the Gottlieb Allergy Count as a public health service to help those who suffer from allergies and asthma better manage their condition.

Dr. Leija performs the daily count during the normal allergy season, from March to October. Dr. Leija began the Gottlieb Allergy Count on March 31 this year, later than in previous years, due to the extended cold spell the Chicago area has endured.

Dr. Leija, an octogenarian,  rises before dawn to collect specimens from his pollen-catching machine atop a building on the Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus to deliver the count to the public by 7 a.m. The Gottlieb Allergy Count is available via Twitter @GottliebAllergy, at the allergy page on and in English at 1-866-4-POLLEN (476-5536).

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

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Stasia Thompson
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