Apr 24, 2024 - News

Atlanta's allergies are bad. It could get worse

Pollen from pine trees covering a deck in Pembroke, MA. Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

If you're counting on pollen season to end soon in Atlanta, then we have bad news for you.

Why it matters: Atlanta recorded its third-highest pollen count this year ever Atlanta Allergy & Asthma, the area's largest allergy practice, began recording counts in 1991.

  • And Atlanta Allergy & Asthma's Lily Hwang says "we're not in the clear" anytime soon: The tree pollen will persist through May, and grass pollen could last into June.

State of play: Hwang says climate change is making pollen seasons start earlier and last longer, and more severe as well. Plus, rain and warm weather are essential for trees and pollination, and Atlanta has lots of trees.

  • The weird yellow dust blanketing your car is pine tree pollen, Hwang says. She also said oak, mulberry, sycamore, and sweetgum trees are pollinating at the same time.

Threat level: Around a quarter of all adults and 1 in 5 children suffer from seasonal allergies, according to the CDC.

  • Pollen allergy symptoms include chronic congestion, nasal drainage, difficulty breathing, and watery, red, or itchy eyes. Prolonged congestion could cause sinus infections.
  • Atlanta recorded an 8,740 pollen count on April 2. Hwang says a count above 90 alone could trigger allergies.

Yes, and: Spring allergies suck for pets too, particularly dogs, who are increasingly being treated for itchy skin and allergies, Axios' Carly Mallenbaum reports.

What's next: Hwang says Atlanta's allergy sufferers should begin using over-the-counter medication by mid-February. Visit a doctor for prescription medication if you already have symptoms.

  • Folks with allergies should go outdoors between 4am through noon when the pollen count is at its lowest.
  • You can also use saline rinses with distilled water, take nightly showers before bed, keep windows closed and run your vehicle's air conditioning.
  • Also consider wearing goggles outdoors, and using OTC allergy eye drops. Just avoid the brand marketed "for red eyes," Hwang says.
  • Pet owners should wipe the paws and fur of their pets after they go outside.
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