PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - You may have noticed the smoke from the Horse Fire coming down into the valley. It's a double whammy for people with allergies because of the juniper trees. Juniper, one of the most common allergens, is already starting to pollinate and the smoke is carrying that pollen to the Phoenix area.

Isabel Gutierrez has been getting allergy shots regularly for about a year. "I'm allergic to every dust, every tree, everything you can imagine," she said.

Gutierrez can tell the Horse Fire is burning unchecked. "I go walking in the evenings, so you can feel it. You breathe it in -- the dust, the air, the smoke. You can feel it," she said.

For someone who was once taking 6 allergy pills a day, the extra irritants really add up. "It's not a coincidence that a lot of patients are experiencing symptoms right now," allergist Dr. Rahul Rishi said.

In addition to the smoke and the pollen, this year's lack of rain hasn't helped his patients out, either. "I think a lot of it has to do with the fires, the dryness. I think we're seeing a lot of that," he said. "A lot of patients are experiencing asthma exacerbation, sometimes difficulty breathing, because most forms of asthma are induced by exposure to airborne allergens."

Rishi has especially noticed a lot of patients who came in after they traveled up north. Fortunately for Gutierrez, her shots are working, and she's down to just one allergy pill a day. When the smoke clears out it will help a little, but the juniper pollen itself isn't going anywhere for a while.

In an interesting twist, the pandemic may help give relief to allergy sufferers. Rishi says wearing a mask and staying indoors are two things that really help his patients -- things most people tend to be doing a lot more of, anyway.

 

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