ATLANTA, GA — If your eyes are burning and your nose is running, there’s a really good reason for that. Although, maybe the blanket of yellow-green dust on your car this morning was a dead giveaway.
The pollen count in Atlanta skyrocketed Wednesday, soaring above 5,000. According to experts, that’s the highest it’s been locally since 2015.
According to Atlanta Allergy and Asthma, Wednesday’s pollen count was 5,089. Anything above 1,500 is considered high and the huge number comes on the heels of a few days that, by Atlanta’s spring standards, were pretty moderate.
By comparison, last year’s highest pollen count in Atlanta was 3,559 and 2016’s high was 4,106. The last time pollen was thicker than Wednesday’s was April 9, 2015.
A pollen count number is the number of pollen particles per one cubic meter of air.
Trees currently are the main contributors to Atlanta’s irritating pollen cloud, with oak, pine, mulberry, hackberry and willow acting as the main culprits. Grass pollen also is relatively high, according to Atlanta Allergy and Asthma, while pollen from plants isn’t much of a problem right now.
Atlanta Allergy & Asthma’s pollen-counting station is certified by the National Allergy Bureau — the only one of its kind in the Atlanta area.
Such heavy pollen can be irritating, even uncomfortable, for all of us. But it’s particularly troubling for people with allergies — which are abnormally sensitive or strong reactions by the immune system to a particular substance, like pollen. About 35 million Americans are sensitive to pollen, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The most common symptoms of such allergies include runny nose, post-nasal drip, sneezing, congestion, coughing and itchy or watery eyes. More rarely, they can cause headaches, loss of taste and smell, low productivity and poor concentration, fatigue, sleep disturbances and snoring.
While completely avoiding this level of pollen is impossible, WebMD offers the following tips for dealing with heavy pollen, particularly for people with allergies:
- Know your pollen count. Keep track of how bad it will be outside every day using a tool like the National Allergy Bureau’s pollen tracker. Here’s the tracker for the South-Atlantic region, including Atlanta.
- Ask your allergist what trees, grasses or plants you are specifically allergic to, and when their pollen output peaks.
- When pollen counts are high, shut your windows and use the air conditioner.
- Plan outdoor time wisely. Most plants, for example, pollinate from 5-9 a.m., so it’s best to avoid being outside during those times. Windy days can be worse than calm ones.
- Protect yourself. A painter’s mask can be a good pollen blocker, especially if you’re doing yard work. If you have allergy medication, take it before going outside.
- Don’t bring it with you. When you get home, especially if you’ve been outdoors, change clothes and take a shower.
Photo via Shutterstock
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