Pollen allergies are perhaps the most common form of allergies in Georgia. This article explains the common pollen allergy causes, and provides tips on controlling allergy reactions.
What is Pollen?
Pollen is a powder-like substance that is made up of microscopic grains or particles that are carried on the anthers/male parts of flowers. The grains may be fine or coarse. Male cones also contain pollen. Pollen is dispersed by the wind, insects, birds and various other animals.
For three of the four seasons each year, pollen is given off from trees, grasses and weeds. The purpose is survival of the species. Pollen is used for cross-pollination with other plants, or for self-pollination, thus ensuring new plants.
Often times, though, pollen misses the mark and end up in your nose or throat instead. Once there, the pollen triggers an allergic reaction that is typically referred to as hay fever, but is more correctly known as Allergic Rhinitis.
Pollen count appears to be on the rise globally, and it has had a knock-on effect in Georgia, too. According to the website, Georgia Health News, there has recently been a greater production of pollen over extended periods in Georgia.
Alas, for residents of Georgia, the extended pollen seasons mean increased risks for people with pollen allergies. It also means that you now have a greater chance of developing symptoms, even if you have previously been allergy-free.
If you have never thought about the sources of pollen in Georgia, take a look below. It is not just one or two varieties of trees/plants. The list is fairly extensive:
Pollen Producers in Georgia
The primary pollen producers in the state of Georgia are:
Secondary pollen producers include:
Ragweed allergies will get progressively worse, because rising temperatures and carbon dioxide output are increasing the pollen count of ragweed plants. Grass pollen count has also risen.
Hay fever is not the only discomfort caused by ragweed and grass pollen. The air-borne allergens lurking in the great outdoors also impact respiratory disorders such as asthma, making them worse.
Due to their small size and light weight, ragweed pollen granules are easily transported on the wind. You will be amazed to know that ragweed pollen samples have been found as far as 400 miles out on the ocean, and that they can reach a height of two miles in the air.
Furthermore, a single ragweed plant is capable of producing one million grains of pollen in one day. There is no escaping them! It is not a comforting thought, but ragweed pollen may even survive winter conditions.
There is no need to despair, though: you can take precautions and medicines to stave off the misery of pollen allergies. Speak to an allergist about medication that you can take to forestall hay fever symptoms.
Pollen Allergy Symptoms
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include:
- Watery and/or itchy eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Itchy throat
In addition, pollen tends to make asthma symptoms worse.
Treatment and Management of Pollen Allergy
• It is easier said than done, but do try to avoid the trigger pollen if at all possible.
• Over-the-counter antihistamines will help the mildest symptoms of pollen allergies.
• For more severe symptoms, it is vital that you seek the help of a board-certified allergist.
• An allergist can give you information about immunotherapy options that might be right for your particular pollen allergy. Allergy shots may be the first choice. Another option involves a pro-active approach: the allergist will usually prescribe tablets that you start taking three months before your symptoms arise. Taken sublingually, the tablets are placed under the tongue until dissolved. They appear to be really effective in cases of ragweed allergies.
• If you suffer from grass pollen allergy, exercise great care when working in the yard. It is a good idea to wear a mask when you mow the lawn. You should also consider switching from grass to a kinder ground cover: Irish moss is a good alternative as it produces considerably less pollen.
• Replace the air filters in your home regularly.
• Vacuum your home often.
• Do not dry laundry outside: pollen in the air will collect on them.
Ultimately, you do not have to suffer from pollen-related symptoms and discomfort. Work with an allergist in Gainesville to identify your specific allergen, and to learn how best to manage your symptoms and lessen the impact that pollen allergies have on your life. Is it not time for you to say ‘No!’ to those golden grains of misery once and for all?