What is the “Pollen Count”?

The pollen count for Atlanta has exceeded record after record this year, keeping those with allergy problems quite uncomfortable. The spring weather is gorgeous — many are eager to get outside and breathe the fresh air, facing the consequences associated with counts over 6,000. With the grasses set to peak in May, those who live in the Atlanta area have not seen the end of record breaking pollen count numbers.

The Meaning Behind the Numbers

Pollen is made up of microscopic grains, produced by the male part of a flower and used to fertilize female parts of plants. This very necessary process is what keeps the vegetation around Atlanta and the rest of the world thriving. Pollen is carried by the wind, bugs and animals to its final destination, which is why you often see it as a yellow dust, coating vehicles, sidewalks and basically every surface that is in open air during a Georgia spring.

This plant produced material is measured by the “pollen count,” which is found by determining the grains of substance per cubic meter of air. When someone experiences allergy related issues, it is not necessarily the pollen in general that is causing the person discomfort, but the specific plant from which it was released. For this reason, individual counts for plants that people are commonly allergic to are often published. The higher the numbers, the more people in the Atlanta area can expect to suffer. Since most do not recognize the meaning of the actual numbers, the count is often provided simply as low, medium and high.

The pollen report can have a huge impact on the quality of life of those who experience severe issues related to allergies. Forecasts are published that predict the pollen levels for up to a year in advance so that these individuals may adjusts their routines and medications accordingly. How is this done without being able to actually test the levels in the air? The count is highly influenced on the number of pollen producing plants in a geographical area, such as Atlanta, making it quite simple to provide the public with a forecast that they can rely on.

When Should You Worry?

Pollen is irritating to many people, causing runny noses, itchy throats and even severe infections. If you experience seasonal allergies, it is recommended that you consult your doctor about beginning an allergy regiment. You may be tested for specific allergies to certain plants, trees and grasses, so that you will know what pollen counts to look out for and what microscopic particle is causing your discomfort.

Those who have complications associated with the ears, nose and throat should stay alert and pay close attention to the pollen count forecasts, as a high count can further irritate existing issues. Children often experience infections due to irritation associated with the release of pollen from plants and trees. For this reason, parents should be proactive. Ask your doctor about over the counter or prescription medications to ease discomforts and decrease the risk of sinus infections while the pollen count is moderate or high.

What You Can Do

The best way to avoid being affected by pollen is to simply stay indoors — easier said than done with the beautiful spring weather in Atlanta. If you do go outside, limit your time and be sure to change your clothes and shower immediately after you return inside. Follow the pollen forecast and choose the days you spend in the sunshine based on the estimated levels.

There are many prescription and over-the-counter medications that can ease your discomfort during spring, the time of year in which pollen counts soar in Georgia. Your doctor or pharmacist can assist you with choosing the best medication to meet your needs.

There is one long term solution available for those who suffer the most from seasonal allergies: immune therapy. This is achieved by receiving shots over an extended period, normally 3-5 years. The patient undergoes an allergy test to determine the specific plant or tree that they are sensitive to, then a small dose of that allergen is given until the body is desensitized.

For more information about possible allergy treatments, be sure to contact Atlanta ENT today.

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