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Georgia's notorious pollen is here, again

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Landscaper Ray Cuthbert said he is not bothered much with allergies from Georgia's notorious tree and grass pollens.

"I just keep going," said Cuthbert, the owner of Cutt Professional Landscaping in Riverdale. "I'm not bothered by it."

Neither is Keith Sloan bothered much by the airborne particulates of nature that cause an annual headache for so many.

For Sloan, pollen season is a sign of increased business. The manager of Super Suds Car Wash in McDonough, he expects business to increase slightly going into April, when pollen counts are at their highest in Georgia.

Other folks, however, may not have as much good fortune as Cuthbert and Sloan when it comes to pollen season.

This is the time of year when tree pollen counts are at their highest, and for many, that means allergies and allergic reactions.

Dr. Rayasam Prasad, an allergy and asthma specialist in Stockbridge, said, when pollen counts are high, people should avoid going outside as much as possible.

"Usually, in the morning time, pollen is most active," Prasad said.

Morning is when many people do not realize there are high-pollen counts from allergens that could cause an allergic reaction.

Pine pollen, he said, is blamed for most people's allergies, but is rarely the cause of allergies. "The main problem," he said, "is a lot of pollen you don't see."

Those pollens cause a range of allergic reactions, such as fatigue. Allergies also come with other symptoms, including chest pains, sneezing, coughing, itching, runny noses, and watering eyes.

Those with chest symptoms, like tightness in the chest and shortness of breath are advised to see a doctor.

There are over-the-counter medications that can aid in alleviating the symptoms, according to Prasad. Zyrtec and Claritin, for instance, help treat allergies from dust, mold, grass, and indoor allergies.

Omnaris is a new FDA-approved nasal spray that will be available in April. "It's supposed to have fewer side-effects," Prasad said.

Omnaris treats nasal symptoms associated with seasonal and perennial allergic rhinitis, or nasal inflammation.

For those who are, at least, marginally affected by the pollen, here are tips to lessen the chances of allergic reactions to it:

Keep your windows at home closed at night and use air conditioning, instead.

Stay indoors when the pollen count or humidity is high, and stay inside on windy days, when dust and pollen are whipped about. Try to minimize early-morning outdoor activity, as most pollen is typically emitted between 5 and 10 o'clock in the morning.

Keep your car windows closed when driving to work, school, or play. Also, try to wash your car(s) once a week to get rid of pollen particles.

If possible, do not mow your lawn during the peak of pollen season, and stay away from freshly cut grass. Mowing and raking leaves stirs up pollens and molds. Also, do not hang sheets or clothing out to dry.