banner
Health Team

High Pollen Count Leads to Early Start of Allergy Season

Posted April 5, 2007 1:38 p.m. EDT
Updated April 5, 2007 5:53 p.m. EDT

— It's shaping up to be a season full of sniffling and sneezing as the pollen count in North Carolina and other southern states soar into the extreme zone. This year's milder winter means the allergy season is getting a head start.

For millions of allergery sufferers in the United States, spring blossoms are picture perfect, but some people see them as perfectly dreadful.

"Watery eyes, sneezing, nose stopped up all the time. (My) head aches," said Ohmar Dunn, of Raleigh.

Dunn said he just wants relief.

"The prescription I've been getting, Allegra, has been taking the edge off of it, but nothing really ever totally knocks it out," he said.

The pine pollen on cars and in ponds is a sign of more troublesome pollens like hickory and oak. More than half of spring allergy sufferers respond well to over-the-counter medications like Benadryl and Claritin or the prescription medications such as Allegra, Zyrtec and Clarinex.

Health experts said it is important to treat the symptoms early or you may be at risk of developing complications like sinusitis, skin disorders or even asthma. There are also practical things you can do such as rolling up car windows and not venturing outdoors until after 10:00 a.m. when pollen counts begin drop.

When you come indoors, the pollen hitches a ride so change your clothing and shower off immediately. Tree pollens usually fade by May 1, but issues associated with grass pollens will follow afterward.

Some allergy medications may raise blood pressure or cause drowsiness, so before taking any medication to relieve allergy symptoms, check with your pharmacist or primary care physician. If over-the-counter or prescription allergy medications do not help, you should see an allergy specialist.