It’s hard to miss.
Pollen season is here, and the common spring allergen is covering cars and triggering sneezes across the region.
The Northeast Georgia Research Center at the Allergy and Asthma Clinic of Northeast Georgia is a certified counting station for the area, and Dr. John Yarbrough said pollen counts reached above 4,000 in the last two weeks.
“Anything over 100 a day is high,” he said. “From Friday, the count was 528. When it gets in the thousands, it’s just miserable.”
These pollen counts represent grains of pollen per cubic meter over a 24-hour period. Counts of all pollen can be measured, as can counts of particular kinds of pollen, including tree and grass pollen.
Yarbrough said the highest count in the Gainesville area dates back to April 12, 1999.
“That was over 9,000,” he said, “which is just unbelievable.”
Weather plays a big factor in pollen counts, at times causing the numbers to drop for a few days before jumping up again.
“The rain knocks it out of the air for a little while, and then it comes back,” Yarbrough said. “Depending on how cold the winter is, and how dry, seems to affect pollen counts.”
Yarbrough said those who’ve moved to the area from other parts of the country often have greater reactions to Georgia pollen.
“They have a greater sensitivity here,” he said. “We have such a wide variety of tree pollens and grass pollens, and a lot of mold. So it’s just more things here than say if you lived in the Southwest or on the coast.”
That said, the most common allergen — even in the region — is commonly found in the home.
“The most common thing for humans to be allergic to is actually house dust mites,” Yarbrough said. “They live in the bed and eat dead human skin. Because you’re around those all year, you have a greater exposure to them.”
Yarbrough extended some advice for anyone with pollen allergies to get through the spring, beyond taking an antihistamine, nose sprays and eye drops.
“It’s the common sense kind of things first,” he said. “Don’t roll your car windows down when you’re driving around. Don’t put your windows down at night to cool off your house, because the pollen will come in. If you’ve been out doing yard work, take a shower soon as you come inside.
“Those kinds of things can be very helpful.”