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Early exposure makes pollen season worse
Manual Xum, of Green Team LLC, blows pollen and grass clippings from a driveway while on the job Wednesday afternoon along Riverside Drive.

Tips to reduce pollen exposure

  • Stay indoors as much as possible
  • Try to do yard work after a rainy day
  • Don’t do outdoor activity early in the day (that’s when pollen is highest)
  • Keep your car windows up
  • Run the air conditioner instead of opening windows for ventilation
  • Take your clothes off when you come inside
  • Wash your hair
  • Minimize contact with pets and other animals
  • Never hang your clothes on the line outside to dry

    Source: Dr. Ronald Beebe

If the pollen seems worse than last year, maybe it’s because you’ve been primed.

Warm days early in March began to bring out the pollen, said Dr. Ronald G. Beebe, a board-certified allergist and immunologist at The Longstreet Clinic in Gainesville. The cold, rainy weather in mid- to late March tamped the pollen back down, but the immune systems of most allergy sufferers had been exposed.

“We call that priming,” Beebe said. “It’s like an exaggerated reaction.”

The Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic’s pollen count was at 4,151 particles per cubic meter of air on Wednesday. It had been as low as 5 last Friday, although readings for most of last week were in the 100 to 200 range.

“We had some warm days three or four weeks ago, then we had that cold snap, then it’s followed by these warm days,” Beebe said. “I just knew (the pollen count) would jump.

“One reason that may have made the pollen season worse this year,” he said, “is that pollen just waits for the warm days to release.”

Beebe said Wednesday was an especially busy day seeing patients with allergy symptoms brought on by the pollen. That could continue for the next several weeks, he said, but “it all depends on the weather.”

Rain tends to reduce the pollen count, giving temporary relief to sufferers, so they should welcome today’s forecast.

There’s a 90 percent chance of precipitation, growing to 100 percent tonight before easing to 70 percent Friday before clearing for the weekend. More than an inch and a quarter of rain could fall before the skies clear Friday afternoon.

With sunny days and highs in the 70s in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday, the pollen should be back.

“Tree pollen is the worst in Georgia,” Beebe said. “The yellow pollen is pine pollen, but almost no one’s allergic to that.”

Pollen from hickory, oak, pecan and cottonwood trees is more likely to affect sufferers, Beebe said.

Some tips can help reduce the effects of pollen, he said, but the lure of the outdoors on a pretty day is especially hard to resist after chilly, rainy weather has kept people inside.

While staying indoors may not be practical, there are other steps sufferers can try, such as running the air conditioner instead of opening windows and not drying clothes by hanging them up outside.

“There must be a million common-sense things people can do,” Beebe said, “but we don’t want people to be hermits; just use common sense when you’re outdoors.”

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