Itchin’ mad about the early pollen? Blame the warm weather

A warm February means the pollen is falling earlier than normal in metro Atlanta.

A warm February means the pollen is falling earlier than normal in metro Atlanta.

Your watery eyes aren’t deceiving you, Atlanta. Pollen season arrived early this year.

An unusually warm February, the second warmest on record for Atlanta, brought the yellow scourge a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, according to Channel 2 Action News Chief Meteorologist Brad Nitz.

Tuesday’s pollen count was in the high range at 1,112, according to Atlanta Allergy and Asthma. Last year, the city didn’t hit that mark until March 30, when the count was 2,431.

Pollen counts in the high range typically last until the second half of May, Nitz said. The extremely high counts — 1,500 and up — usually occur from mid-March through mid-April, he said.

Thankfully, the rain helped wash away pollen Thursday and Friday. Friday’s pollen count was down to 31. And another round of winter temperatures is sure to arrive in the days ahead.

Ah-choo! What to do?

Pollen is one of the most common culprits of seasonal allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Also known as hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis, it means itchy, watery eyes and sneezing for those who suffer from it.

Those affected by the pollen should plan to limit outdoor activities when possible, according to AAFA. When outside, consider sunglasses and a hat to keep pollen out of your hair and eyes and hopefully your nose.

Other tips include showering before bed to remove any pollen on the body, washing bedding at least weekly in hot water and changing clothes after being outdoors, according to allergy experts.

And no, moving out of the South won’t help, according to experts. Other areas also have pollen, just not as early.

What about pets?

Dogs and cats won’t be able to let you know they’re miserable. But the pollen may be affecting them, too, according to Dr. Sydney Jackson with New Hope Animal Hospital in Dallas.

“Just like us, some people are more affected by allergies than others,” Jackson said. “With some dogs, and cats too, you’ll see a really big difference in them once the springtime rolls around.”

Allergy symptoms in pets may lead to skin irritations and ear infections, Jackson said. Her practice has already seen an increase in furry patients with allergies, including some upper respiratory issues.

Animals may need allergy medications just like humans, the veterinarian said. Also, wipe their paws when they come inside to avoid the spread of pesky pollen.