Pollen counts in Atlanta reach “extremely high” levels

Helena Oliviero, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Weather News

Warm spring days in Atlanta can be lovely but the allergy season can make life miserable for those who suffer from seasonal allergies.

And at the moment, the pollen count for tree pollen in Atlanta has soared to “extremely high” levels, according to the latest measurements released Friday by the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma’s pollen counting station, which is certified by the National Allergy Bureau.

The Weather Channel’s 15-day allergy forecast predicts tree pollen will remain at this very high level for the next several days with the exception of a slight dip predicted to moderate levels on Tuesday.

Tree pollen is the most common trigger of spring allergies. Contrary to popular belief, flowering trees such as cherry trees are usually not the problem. It’s the hardwood trees, including oak, hickory and birch trees, red cedar. They have light, powdery and often invisible pollen causing the most havoc. These hardwoods produce lightweight pollen which can be carried by the wind, sometimes over vast distances.

Symptoms from seasonal allergies can include severe headaches and brain fog, preventing people from enjoying spring-like temperatures outdoors and even sabotaging their sleep.

Dr. Lily Hwang of Atlanta Allergy & Asthma, a large allergy practice in Georgia started seeing a rise in patients suffering from seasonal allergies earlier this month.

She recommends those who suffer from allergies regularly check daily pollen counts. Severe allergy sufferers should try to stay indoors on the windiest, driest days, because the pollen is usually higher than after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air. High pollen days, she said, are not the time to go for a run or do yardwork chores such as lawn mowing, weed pulling, and gardening — all of which can aggravate your pollen allergy.


If you’ve been outside a lot during the day, pollen is on your body and clothes. Upon arriving home, immediately take a shower and change clothes, she said.

Whenever pollen counts are high, make sure to keep your doors and windows closed, she also recommends. You can keep your indoor air clean by using high-efficiency air filters on air conditioners, using a dehumidifier, putting an air purifier called a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter near your bed, and cleaning your floors often.

Hwang said ideally allergy sufferers have already started taking medication at least two weeks ago because it’s best to start taking medication a couple weeks before your allergy symptoms typically arrive.

But the medications can also be taken as needed during the season. You’ll just have to be patient (and likely suffer a little longer) before they fully kick in.

Nasal steroid sprays are often the best first treatment option. They block inflammation and swelling caused by airborne irritants and allergens, and prevent allergy symptoms. Over-the-counter steroid nasal sprays include: Triamcinolone (sold under the brand name Nasacort); fluticasone (Flonase or Flonase Sensimist); and budesonide (Rhinocort).

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