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Allergy season drags on; cooler temperatures to offer relief

POSTED: September 13, 2012 11:59 p.m.

The late summer and early fall allergy season is in high gear until lower temperatures slam on the brakes.

Gainesville’s pollen count was 8.8 on Thursday, which is in the medium-high range that extends from 7.3 to 9.6. The number represents, in thousands, the parts of pollen per cubic meter of air.

That count should remain relatively steady because of stable temperatures and humidity.

“No change doesn’t mean no pollen, it just means that pollen producing plants are delivering pollen at a steady pace,” according to the website of the Allergy and Asthma Clinic of North Georgia in Gainesville. “Pollen producing plants are at a relatively steady level of pollination at this time.”

This fall’s season “did start a little early,” said Donell Ducote, nurse practitioner at the clinic.

“It usually starts in late August, but it was more like mid-August” that it started this year, Ducote said. “By September, we have a lot of cases.”

One of the leading irritants is ragweed.

“Ragweed is the most common pollen, the one that has the name recognition, and that pollen blows, so if you’re beside a ditch or a field, you might feel it,” she said. “Also, mold has been quite high, and the rains have added to that.”

The best way for sufferers to avoid triggering their allergies is to avoid exposure to the pollens that cause them. Staying inside is one way to do that, but for most people that’s not practical.

“We always recommend, when you’re in the car, keep your windows closed,” Ducote said. “Even though the temperatures are milder now, keep the windows in your house closed.”

Pollen is present during the fall season, but “it’s not visible like it is in the spring,” she said.

Sufferers can also take medication, Ducote said.

“The are several good antihistamines available over the counter, including some that used to be (available only by) prescription,” she said. “For many people, that’s all they need.”

For more severe cases, a prescription medication may be needed. Ducote noted pollen exposure can also trigger attacks of asthma.

“Allergy shots are a great option,” she said, “but for that you’ve got to see an allergist.”

As the seasons turn and fall brings lower temperatures, that also will bring relief to allergy sufferers.

“Fall pollen is always present until we get our first frost,” Ducote said. “The colder it gets, the more (pollen) drops off.”


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