HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) – We’re in the middle of allergy season and many across the Valley have been experiencing symptoms. Aside from the normal pollen in the air, doctors say there is another factor contributing to allergies here in the Valley.

Dr. John Austin with Valley Baptist Medical Center tells ValleyCentral that the increase in brush fires and sugar cane burning is causing more problems for patients who already struggle to breathe.

“There’s so much acreage devoted to that and that’s the way they have to use to burn it off and harvest it so that is a very common contributing factor to that allergen,” Austin said. ” We are going to be exposed to it here and the wind only makes it worse.” 

While pollen usually causes a majority of allergy cases in the valley, Dr. Austin adds complications from smoke in the air are worse.

“Smoke and dust are more irritating and can affect more people,” Austin said. “Some people don’t even have allergies, so some people won’t have trouble with the tree pollen, and the grass pollen but almost everyone if the volume is high enough is going have a response to the dust and the smoke.”   

But allergies can be dangerous for people with underlying conditions such as asthma. Austin urges anyone having problems breathing to limit their time outdoors.

“You know we have all kind of learned in the last two and a half years to be comfortable with masks on,” Austin said. “So when you are going to be outdoors and you have increased susceptibility, using a mask is certainly going to help you with that.”

Those with severe allergies are encouraged to visit their doctor to get any treatment needed.