Feeling yucky? It’s probably the high pollen count

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Feeling yucky? It’s probably the high pollen count

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Getty Images / Oli Scarff
Unseasonably warm temperatures and above average rain fall in the last 2 weeks of January have provided ideal conditions for trees to produce pollen.
     

This story has been updated.

If you find yourself reaching more for the eye drops and tissue, there’s good reason.

It’s the yellow dust that is covering cars, the ground and anything that stands still for longer than five minutes.

Last March, the Atlanta pollen count hit 2,759, reaching what the National Allergy Bureau considers the “extremely high” range for the sixth time in the past eight days.

“It’s tree pollen, mostly,” said Dr. David Tanner, medical director for Atlanta Allergy & Asthma. “It’s not much else.”

The major culprits are oak, pine, sweet gum, Sycamore and ash trees.

“It’s been at a fairly high level, especially for this time of year,” he said.

Tanner said during the spring, the pollen count is usually in the 1,000 range. “We’ve had a relatively warm winter and a very warm spring,” he said. “The temperature has been about 10 degrees above normal. Basically, we have April weather in March and the trees don’t know the difference.”

He said the practice’s patient load is up slightly.

Patients who suffer from allergies may experience an increase in symptoms because of the large amount of pollen in the air.

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Most patients have complained about watery, itchy and swelling around the eyes. There may also be some nasal drainage, which can also irritate the throat.

He advises people to use common sense, which means keeping the car and house windows closed. If you’re very sensitive, Tanner suggests using a mask to cover your nose and month when working outside, which will help eliminate some exposure. Then, of course, there’s always the option to stay indoors as much as possible,” but this is nice weather and no one wants to stay inside.”

Helpful tips during allergy season 

  • Keep your car and house windows closed; run the air conditioner (recycled setting) instead.
  • Change or clean your air filters regularly. 
  • Shower before going to bed or when you get home. Pollen can settle into your hair and onto your clothes and skin, so a shower will keep you from breathing in pollen all night.
  • Wash off indoor pets’ paws and wipe down their fur with a damp cloth or towel if they’ve been outdoors. Pets can easily track pollen into your home, leaving it on your carpets and furniture. 
  • Avoid outdoor activities until early evening. Pollen counts tend to be highest in the mornings.
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