For many people, spring is agony. With the warm weather comes blossoming flowers, budding trees and lots and lots of pollen.
According to The Weather Channel, today’s pollen count is in the high range. Saturday is expected to be worse, but the yellow dusting of pollen on cars is not the reason people are sneezing.
“The pollen from oak trees and flowering trees is smaller. You can’t see it,” explained Brian Maddy, the County Coordinator with the Troup County Extension office. “That’s what gets into your nasal cavities. That’s what we’re allergic to. The larger pollen, the yellow and green stuff, can’t get inside our nasal cavities.”
While it’s hard to predict how bad the pollen season will be, Maddy believes the worst could be yet to come.
“The oak trees and pine trees are still budding out,” he said. “That usually happens throughout April and May.”
More flowering trees are blooming too, such as the cherry tree, the Bradford pear and the redbuds. Also blooming are garden-variety weeds like ragweed, golden rod and clovers in grass.
Josh Seward, pharmacist and manager of The Medicine Cabinet on Vernon Street, said they’ve seen an influx of people come into the store over the past three weeks looking to relieve their allergy symptoms.
“Most people have itchy, watery eyes and are sneezing,” Seward said.
Seward recommends oral antihistamines like Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra or Benedryl at night. He said there’s also a new inhaled steroid called Nasacort that will ease allergy symptoms. The trick is to take the medicines before you actually need them.
“An Antihistamine doesn’t work right away,” Seward explained. “It takes several days for your body and the drug to get the histamine release under control. So I tell people, if ragweed is what you’re allergic to and you know ragweed is going to bloom for five or seven weeks, take it before the five to seven weeks.”
Seward said not treating your allergy symptoms could lead to other medical issues.
“You need to treat it. Because if you don’t treat it, and it continues on, usually it will evolve into a sinus infection,” he said. “Which then, doctors get involved and you may need antibiotics.”
While rain will wash some of the pollen out of the air temporarily, the pollen counts will continue to climb as long as the trees and bushes are reproducing. Maddy suggests doing some maintenance around the home can keep allergens out.
“Change the filters in your car, in your air conditioning units and the furnace,” he said.
A natural approach is to purchase local honey. According to Maddy, bees in the area are pollinating local flowers and trees.
“If you eat the honey the (local) bees produce, it will help your allergies and immune system.”
He said a person can then become acclimated to the pollen and desensitize themselves from the allergens.