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Dr. Philip Halverson questioned the tool’s usefulness as well. “I wonder about the clinical utility of pollen counts,” he said. People with allergies who are seeing doctors already are treating their symptoms. “If it’s a seasonal allergy, we typically have a plan,” he said. “So, really, the treatment is pretty much symptom-based.”
The search for a good app
Allergy apps aren’t on most people’s radar yet, said Lower, co-owner of Sterling Cross Communications in Maple Grove, but they’re a natural outgrowth of mainstream apps. He cited a recent Pew Research Center report on smartphone apps, which found that weather-related apps top the list of mobile downloads. “That’s typically where most of these [allergy] apps came out of — they’re gaining mass information from weather sites,” he said.
O’Reilly had a weather app, but was looking for more information about pollen. So, she turned to what’s become a reliable source: her smartphone. She tweeted: “I wish weather apps had an allergy component. Is there a seasonal allergy app?” She instantly received a half dozen responses on Twitter.
Kennedy chimed in, tweeting: “The Weather Channel App for iPhone does. There are even alerts!”
O’Reilly ultimately chose the WebMD Allergy app. It has bar graphs showing pollen levels, ranging from none to low to moderate to high and finally severe. “It’s almost like a ‘threat level green,’ ‘threat level orange’ situation,” she said, laughing. “I liked it right away.”
Allie Shah • 612-673-4488