Health & Fitness: Tips to Survive High Pollen Days, Manage Allergies


By LaTINA EMERSON, Special to The Weekly

It’s been another record-breaking pollen season in Georgia, and people of all ages have been suffering from sneezing, congestion and itching, watery eyes. More than 100 million people in the United States have asthma or allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. May is National Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month, and each year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and other healthcare organizations educate the public about allergic diseases. 

Here are some allergy and asthma facts from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America:

  • Nearly 26 million people in the U.S. have asthma (20.7 million adults and 4.8 million children)
  • About 20 million people in the U.S. have food allergies (16.0 million adults and 4.3 million children)
  • About 80 million people in the U.S. have rhinitis due to nasal allergies, also called “hay fever” (66.4 million adults and 13.9 million children)

Atlanta Allergy & Asthma, an allergy practice with 18 locations in the Atlanta area including Fayetteville, offers some advice on how to survive high pollen days, how to manage allergies and why people should consider seeing an allergist. 

Surviving High Pollen Count Days

Allergy sufferers can follow Atlanta Allergy & Asthma’s daily pollen count (trees, grass and weeds) and mold activity count on the allergy group’s website. Atlanta Allergy & Asthma offers these tips for surviving high pollen count days:

  • Keep windows (car and house) closed. Instead run the air conditioner on the recycled setting.
  • Change or clean air filters regularly.
  • Pollen can settle into hair and onto clothes and skin, so shower when you get home or before going to bed.
  • Wear sunglasses or glasses to keep pollen out of the eyes. 
  • Remove shoes before entering your home.
  • For indoor pets, wash off their paws and wipe down their fur with a damp towel if they’ve been outside. This prevents pets from tracking pollen into the house.
  • Participate in outdoor activities when pollen counts tend to be lower, usually between 4 a.m. and noon.
  • Take allergy medication before outdoor plans. Don’t wait until you experience symptoms.
  • To receive an accurate diagnosis, visit a board-certified allergist, who can help you figure out what is triggering your symptoms and create a treatment plan for your specific allergens.

Allergy Basics

Atlanta Allergy & Asthma provides some information on allergy definitions, symptoms and why allergy sufferers should consider seeing an allergist.

What are allergies?

An allergy is an abnormal sensitivity or exaggerated reaction of the immune system to a substance that causes no symptoms in most people.

Allergens are substances that trigger allergic reactions. Examples include plant pollen, pet dander, insect venom, dust, mold, foods and drugs. 

Allergic rhinitis, also known as allergies or hay fever, is a type of inflammation in the nasal membranes that occurs when the immune system overreacts to allergens in the air. Common symptoms include nasal congestion; itching in the nose, mouth, eyes or throat; sneezing; drainage; cough and headaches. 

Allergic rhinitis has two forms, seasonal and perennial. Seasonal allergic rhinitis can occur in spring, summer and early fall. Symptoms are usually caused by allergic sensitivity to airborne mold spores or to pollen from grass, trees and weeds. Perennial allergic rhinitis is year-round. It is usually caused by dust mites, pet hair or dander, cockroaches or mold.

What are allergy symptoms?

Some common symptoms associated with allergies include: runny nose, post nasal drip, sneezing, congestion, coughing and itchy/watery eyes. 

Less common allergy symptoms include: headaches, loss of taste and smell, low productivity/poor concentration, fatigue, sleep disturbances and snoring. 

When should someone see an allergist?

An allergist is trained in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic conditions including asthma, sinusitis, seasonal allergies, food allergies and severe allergic reactions.

It’s important to identify what is causing a person’s allergy symptoms, and allergy testing is required. Allergists have the proper tools and understand the tests and investigations required to diagnose allergies and allergy-related problems.

Allergy testing can provide information on what a person is allergic to. These tests could include a skin test or a blood test. Treatment options for allergies include allergy shots, drops and tablets.

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