Atlanta pollen: How to deal with those pesky pollen allergies

Atlanta’s pollen count continues to soar, dusting our cars and homes with a yellow tint and bringing an itchy nose and other symptoms.

On Tuesday, Atlanta Allergy & Asthma reported 949 particles of pollen per cubic meter of air in the past 24 hours. It’s a relatively low number compared to earlier this month, when the air measured a pollen count of 4,557 on April 5. But it’s still considered high (90-1499) on the National Allergy Bureau’s scale for tree pollens.

“The fact that it’s becoming warmer earlier is certainly driving up pollen counts.” Dr. Steven Harris, director of Asthma and Allergy at Piedmont Healthcare, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Patients with asthma, he said, are in particular danger. Rising temperatures caused by climate change lead to longer allergy seasons, which can ultimately cause more asthma attacks.

Harris said studies also show that emergency visits are tied to high pollen counts.

“Here in Atlanta,” said Harris, “we have gargantuan, off-the-charts count levels. And even when the levels are somewhat lower, we’re still seeing people come in with symptoms.”

Helpful tips during allergy season

There’s no single way to avoid allergies. Common myths like buying locally produced honey or moving to an area with a different climate won’t solve the problem for someone who is genetically predisposed to have spring allergies, the experts said.

Instead, allergists recommend testing to find out exactly what a person is allergic to. Then doctors can combat the symptoms through immunotherapy.

More tips from local experts:

  • Keep track of the daily pollen count.
  • Take medications appropriately recommended by physicians.
  • Wear a mask outdoors and be cautious about how much time you spend outside during high pollen counts.
  • 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.