May 21, 2015 2:19 PM by News Staff
Millions of Americans are suffering through a miserable allergy season, and on the West Coast, the ongoing drought is making things even worse.
Los Angeles native Lesley Holmes says she's been having more trouble than usual with her chronic allergies to pollen, pets and pollution. Her symptoms improve when she travels, but then return with a vengeance when she gets back home.
"This year, it's been a lot worse, to where it's really affecting my daily life," she told CBS News. "It's stressful, you know, because you're like, 'I can't breathe. What am I going to do?'"
Dr. Raffi Tachidjian, who specializes in allergies and immunology, says Holmes is hardly alone.
"You have patients coming in by the droves because they're just miserable," he said.
Drought conditions mean pollen from trees, grasses and weeds collects on the ground and blow in the wind without rain to wash it away.
On top of that, pollen counts have dramatically increased in recent years.
"As a plant is stressed, as it's dying, as it's not thriving, it's going to try to survive. So, it's going to kick out more pollen," Tachidjian explained.
Smog, a notorious problem in Los Angeles, can also increase an allergy sufferer's sensitivity to pollen.
To help cope with allergies, experts advise staying indoors at dawn and dusk when pollen counts tend to be highest.
© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.