Newswise — At 45,000, the Gottlieb Allergy Count for mold spores is very close to the 50,000 threshold signaling a dangerous air quality alert. “The extreme humidity coupled with the hot temperatures and rain have created a soupy environment that is causing serious distress for those with mold allergies and asthma,” says Joseph Leija, MD, who performs the Gottlieb Allergy Count, the official count of the Midwest. “It’s like having a hot, wet towel over your face all the time for many with sensitive systems. Difficulty breathing, itchy throat, coughing and fatigue will be what Chicagoans feel today and possible for the rest of the week.”
Monday, June 30, 2014, the Gottlieb Allergy Count was: Trees Low, Mold High, Grass Low and Weeds Low. At 45,000 spores, the Gottlieb Allergy Count for mold is the highest today since the tracking began in March.
Dr. Leija says those with sensitive systems should protect themselves from the outdoors. “Stay inside, run the air conditioning and above all, take your allergy medication,” says . Leija, who, together with the American Academy of Asthma Allergy & Immunology, created the Gottlieb Allergy Count over two decades ago. “If you must go outside, keep the car windows up and the air conditioning on. Rinse your nose with saline solution and wash your hair before sleep to remove trapped spores.”
Every weekday morning at 4:30 a.m., for the past two decades, now 84-year-old allergist Joseph Leija, MD, has climbed the stairs to the rooftop of Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, located just outside Chicago. There he maintains a scientific pollen-catching machine developed in Britain during WW II to detect poison in the air. The machine records air particles in 2- minute increments during a 24-hour period.
Typical pollen seasons are: Trees in March to May; Grass in May to June; Weeds and Ragweed in mid-August to October and Mold all season long depending on dampness.
Dr Leija takes the glass slide with the day’s catch – during pollen reporting season, usually April – October – and under a microscope in his office, meticulously identifies and counts every spore. He uses an algorithm created by the National Allergy Bureau, to arrive at the official allergy count for the Midwest – by 7 a.m.
“People with respiratory conditions need to know the allergy count early in the morning so they can take the right medication and make adjustments in their routine to improve their health,” says the allergist who supplies area members of the media, as well as the general public, the numbers at no charge. “Several broadcast networks and Chicago’s largest newspaper report the Gottlieb Allergy Count daily so I am up at 4 a.m.to get the process started.”
Dr. Leija is the only allergist in the Midwest certified by the National Allergy Bureau to report the official allergy count of the Midwest. He follows a complex series of algorithms to arrive at the daily allergy count and his numbers are used by the association in their daily national reports of allergy activity.
The Gottlieb Allergy Count is available through Twitter: at Gottliebhospital.org and at 1-866-4-POLLEN (476-5536).