Tonawanda News

April 7, 2013

DUVALL: For allergy sufferers, the battle looms

The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — If the meteorologists are correct — a dubious assumption — spring has finally arrived to banish winter. If the number of joggers and dog-walkers on my street in Buffalo is any indication (it’s gone from the wintertime trickle to the spring steady flow and will eventually lead to traffic jams in the bicycle lane on Richmond Avenue), we’re in store for some better weather.

It won’t be long before the distant hum of lawnmowers will be heard far and wide in Western New York. For many the smell of freshly cut grass harkens back to idilic childhood memories.

I like warm weather as much as anybody. And I’m ready to be rid of winter perhaps more than anybody.

But with the warm weather comes a price.

I have terrible allergies. To everything.

I can’t vacuum a carpet without tying a handkerchief or towel around my face. The dust bunnies under my bed would induce a 30 minute sneezing fit if disturbed. 

I can’t mow a lawn without breaking out into hives — literally. I throw down the windows for a day after it a trimming. 

I scoff at all those television commercials for Claritin or Allegra. If they have any effect it’s that of a placebo. I’ve never found a pill that makes much of a difference save Benadryl, but it puts me almost immediately to sleep for two hours. 

When I was a kid my mother took me to an allergist. They tested me for a dozen or so of the most common allergies — pollen, ragweed, dust, etc. Let’s just say I aced the test.

So I read with some measure of cynicism a story in Saturday’s Buffalo News, that Buffalo is ranked the 15th worst city for allergy sufferers. 

Like any good Western New Yorker I am constantly on guard against lists that rank us as the worst something-or-other. We’re perpetually undersampled in virtues (we get more sunshine that most places but all anyone ever thinks about is snow, for example). But some intrepid writer looking to rank America’s fattest cities will make plenty of cracks at our chicken wing consumption.

But this list offered a bit of vindication. Maybe it isn’t all my crazed immune system’s fault after all!

As it turns out, Buffalo is a bit of a rarity. Most cities in the Northeast aren’t all that bad for allergy sufferers. But Buffalo’s temperate summers make a breeding ground for lots of pollen. 

Generally, the deep South is the worst place to live for allergies. I’ll add that to the list of reasons why I’m glad I don’t live in Mississippi. 

They say rain can help dampen pollen counts but I’ve always found the hours after a summertime shower are the worst. 

All I know is the onset of warmer weather is wonderful for many reasons — but my sinuses and a decent night’s sleep aren’t two of them.

Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. Contact him at

Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. Contact him at