Cottonwood seeds blowing in Minnesota’s ‘season of sneeze’

The "season of sneeze" is upon many as pollen seasons are overlapping in Minnesota this month.

But what you see may not be what’s causing your allergies.

Cottonwood seeds are ubiquitous around the Twin Cities these days, flying every which way. They are also blanketing the banks of the Mississippi River, and the trees’ seasonal shedding is especially fierce this year.

FOX 9 asked the experts why they’re so prevalent  and what they’re doing to our bodies.

"I think they're really happy with the amount of rain we've had this spring, and they have the extra energy after three years of drought," said Dr. Lee Frelich, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Forest Ecology.

A snowy seed storm slowed a Twins game at Target Field last week, but for little girls, they are the game.

"Is she allergic?" a reporter asked the adult with one of many girls who made the seeds into a toy,

"We’ll find out tonight," she replied.

"We are in the peak of the allergy season, so we are seeing number of patients with stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, watery eyes, red eyes," said Dr. Pramod Kelkar, an Allina Health Allergist.

A lot of patients are showing symptoms, but when they guessed the source, the answer was not blowing in the wind.

"You're not allergic to cottonwood right now," said Dr. Frelich.

He says bees carry most cottonwood pollen and they did it six weeks ago.

What we’re seeing are the seeds.

Oaks and conifers are the trees contributing to a pollen doubleheader right now.

"We have a grass pollen season in the Twin Cities that just gets going in early June and really peaks in late June and early July," said Dr. Frelich.

Early spring rain helped create the problem, but late spring rain can counteract it, at least temporarily.

"If the weather is dry and windy and hot, there is going to be more pollen and more allergens in the air," said Dr. Kelkar.

He says you can usually manage your allergies with a sinus rinse and an evening shower to get the pollen out of you nose and off your body.

If they don’t blow over, you probably need to see an allergist.