It’s that time again. Spring is upon us, and with it comes pet shedding, pollen and the start of air quality action days. The allergy season brings with it stuffy noses, itchy and watery eyes, headaches and all the discomfort associated with it. Unfortunately, the allergy season is hitting earlier than usual this year and is soon to be in full swing.
The pollen count in the Atlanta metropolitan area spiked to its highest and earliest extreme count in the past three years. It reached 1,793 two weeks ago, probably due to high temperatures and sunshine. Pollen count is measured based on how many pollen grains fill the air over a single-day period and an area of one cubic meter.
This high jumped from 178 on March 10 to its high on March 11, a multiple of ten. In addition to the sun and warm temperatures, the snow and ice the region saw in late February probably played a factor. Last year the count did not reach over 1,000 until April, when it peaked at over 4,000.
When one looks at recent years, higher numbers have been seen, but nothing in March since 2012. That year the count hit 9,367 on March 20, the high mark for that year (and in Atlanta history). In 2013, the high count of 8,024 hit in mid-April.
This could mean, when one looks at the patterns, that still higher pollen levels will arrive in the coming months. Still, those sensitive to pollen and other airborne allergens likely had a bit of a tough time early this year.
Nobody knows for certain what causes some people to develop allergies. There are theories regarding heredity, exposure to certain atmospheric allergens, lifestyle and more. Some people go for years with no symptoms, and then suddenly develop them. For others, allergies persist for a long time before simply going away.
Whatever the root of the allergy is, it causes your immune system to have an abnormal reaction to certain stimuli, or triggers, which to other people are not harmful. When your immune system acts to protect you against these triggers, you develop symptoms of illness caused by a release of a chemical called histamine.
Some relief came to the area in the form of rain last week, which helped to wash away much of the early pollen count. For those who suffer from allergies, the best treatment for many is still testing by a qualified Allergist doctor, followed by over-the-counter medications. Once you know exactly what triggers your allergies, you can better plan to deal with them.
When over the counter meds don’t help, your allergist can provide alternative treatments such as steroids, nasal sprays, allergy shots and drops and other forms of immunotherapy to encourage your immune system not to respond to those triggers.
Have you had problems with allergies earlier than usual this season? If so, there is no reason to wait for treatment. Call our office today for testing and consultation.