Newswise — Tree, Mold, Grass and Weed pollen were reported for the first time in the 2014 allergy reporting season, causing a pollen vortex of sneezing, itching and headaches for Midwesterners. “In March, I predicted a pollen vortex and unfortunately it is here. All pollens except ragweed are now simultaneously at recordable levels triggering reactions in those with sensitive breathing systems,” says Joseph Leija, MD, who performs the Gottlieb Allergy Count, the official count of the Midwest. “And the heavy rains symbolic of spring do not cleanse but instead trap the pollen and make breathing worse for many.”

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.

Monday, April 28, 2014, was the first count featuring four pollen fields: Trees High; Mold Low, Grass Low and Weeds Low.

Dr. Leija says the extreme cold temperatures, heavy snows of the polar vortex combined with the slow spring warm up have created the pollen vortex. “The back and forth of the warm and cold temperatures have plant life and mold stopping and starting growth and the traditional seasons for each have now run together,” says Leija.

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.

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 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 and in English at 1-866-4-POLLEN (476-5536).