Pollen remains on the rise

Published 4:00 am Saturday, March 23, 2019

High pollen counts have marked the last few weeks, with Atlanta Allergy & Asthma, an allergy practice that tracks the pollen count for the region, reporting a pollen count of 208 on Friday. The group does not release measurements for weekends.

That number falls in the high range, with tree pollen being the main type of pollen filling the air.

Thursday’s pollen count fell below March’s high of 322, and below this year’s highest pollen count of 736 on Feb. 8. In 2018, the pollen count hit a high of 5,354 in April. However, in LaGrange, more people than normal have reported feeling the toll of pollen this year.

“There is a lot of pollen out there now, and even people who don’t have asthma are coming in with bronchitis and difficulty breathing,” said Wanda McGill, an advanced practitioner at WellStar West Georgia. “Of course, people who do have asthma are having reactions that are worse than normal. For anybody with allergies or anything like respiratory issues — asthma, [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] — everything is getting worse.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States, with more than 50 million Americans suffering from allergies each year.

“We’ve had several admissions, especially with pediatric patients,” McGill said. “A lot of them had never had admissions or problems before.”

Allergy relief medicines can help manage some of the allergy symptoms, but anyone experiencing trouble breathing should immediately seek medical attention.

Other means of reducing allergy symptoms focus on limiting exposure to pollen, especially at home.

“You’ll be amazed if you vacuum your floor and look,” McGill said. “In the bag or the water, it will be covered in pollen. You didn’t even realize it was there, so after you are outdoors, you need to change your clothes, rinse off, use saline spray to rinse the pollen out of your nose. Just get it off your skin and off your body.”

The CDC notes that allergies cannot generally be prevented, but allergic reactions can be prevented. The CDC recommends being in an air-conditioned environment during peak seasons for outdoor allergies.