As the cars around town get a fresh coat of yellow, a Gainesville allergist said the bigger problem is the pollen you cannot see.
Dr. Ronald Beebe of Breathe Better Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center on South Enota Drive said most of what we see is pine pollen, to which few people are allergic.
“It’s just not very allergenic. I test for that, and everybody’s allergic to hickory, pecan and oak pollen, but almost nobody’s allergic to pine. Therefore, they’re miserable from the pollen they can’t see,” Beebe said.
Beebe said the uptick in patients started about three weeks ago, as the cold weather and rain will keep the pollen count down.
“Now that we’ve started to get warmer days and less rain, the pollen is going crazy as you know from the pollen counts. People start suffering and start coming in,” he said.
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, the last available online report from the Gainesville-based Northeast Georgia Research Center is from September 2014.
The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology lists only two Georgia counting stations: Atlanta and Savannah.
According to the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma’s pollen counting station, the pollen count Thursday, April 4 was 3,065 with very high levels of tree pollen. Pollen from grass and weeds was considered low.
The pollen count more than doubled between Wednesday and Thursday.
Beebe offered some of the common-sense pollen advice:
Avoid the outdoors at pollen’s peak: early morning. “If you need to do outdoor activities, try to delay those until later in the day,” Beebe said.
If possible, wait to do outdoor activities until after it rains.
Keep car windows up and air conditioning on, and the same goes for the house. “People like the nice spring weather, open the doors and the windows (and) let the air in. That’s the worst thing you can do,” Beebe said.
When you come in from the outdoors, change clothing.
For the most sensitive among the sufferers, wear a mask when outside. “The vast majority of people, of course, don’t need that,” Beebe said.
For treatment, the common medications have been the newer antihistamine drugs like Xyzal, Zyrtec and Allegra.
“Many people like to take Claritin, but allergists consider Claritin very weak, so we don’t use it very much,” Beebe said. “Probably the best treatments are nasal steroids … such as Flonase, Nasacort and Nasonex.”
Beebe said it is too early to tell how this season will compare historically.