Achoo! Pollen counts high this week

Published 12:12 am Wednesday, March 16, 2016


The yellow sprinkles of pollen are here.

With the spring-like weather upon us the pollen count is high. shows that pollen counts for today are 10.8 out of 12; will be 11.1 on Thursday; 10.8 on Friday and 10.3 on Saturday.

Thunderstorms are expected to make their way through the area starting tonight, which will help only slightly.

Top allergens are juniper, elm and maple.

Pollen can be seen on folks’ cars and on sidewalks, but also can be reason behind sneezing, stuffy noses, itchy, watery eyes and coughing as it stirs up allergies.

According to Dr. Bill Tillman of Tillman Family Eye Care, itchy, watery eyes are also a sign of allergies.

“While eye allergies can affect anyone, spring is especially hard on contact lens wearers,” he said. “Allergy season can make wearing them uncomfortable. Extended wear time and infrequent lens replacement are two of the main reasons contact lens wearers face more prevalent symptoms.”

Antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Allegra or Claritin are recommended, as are prescription eye drops.

Thirty-five million Americans complain from upper respiratory symptoms related to pollen, according to the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, which is a branch of the National Institute of Health.

To ward against pollen-related illness, follow these helpful tips:

• extreme solution: move to a place where the offending substance does not grow;

• remain indoors in the morning, when the outdoor pollen levels are highest;

• sunny, windy days are usually troublesome. Wear face masks designed to filter

pollen if working outside;

• seashore is an effective retreat for many pollen allergy sufferers;

• mold spores are difficult to avoid. Avoid raking and mowing the lawn;

• avoid traveling on dry windy days;

• air out summer cabins and rooms that are closed up all winter since they contain a

lot of mold spores;

• use air conditioning and filters in the house and car; and,

• medicines are available for people who cannot avoid airborne allergies. Check with your physician for appropriate care.

The other side of pollen is that the effects are something that people can’t live without.

The sole purpose of pollen is to reproduce the plant.

“If we don’t have pollen floating through the air, then the ovules in the female part of the flower are not fertilized, so they do not produce seed and that species will become extinct,” said Dr. Dale Monks, director of Research Operations in Agronomic Crops at Auburn University.

Some plants are self-pollinating, while others, like corn, are wind pollinated.

Other plants require a pollinator.

“Some pollen is heavier than others, so the pollen that you see from a pine tree is thick, heavy and yellow, but that is not the kind that people are usually allergic to. People are usually allergic to oak, flower or weed pollen,” he said. “Wind-pollinated plants are often the ones that give people the most problems because their pollen grains are small and plentiful and can be easily carried by the wind for miles.”