Pollen problems only getting started, but we do have hints to help

7:22 PM, Apr 8, 2013   |    comments
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The beauty of spring often brings itchy eyes and runny noses.

ATLANTA -- Don't be surprised to find long lines at area car washes.  Spring has sprung, sprinkling a little bit of its "golden goodness" all over cars, clothes and pretty much anything else that dares to go outside.

Monday's pollen count reached 2,093.  According to the Atlanta Allergy & Asthma Clinic, that's a dramatic shift in just three days when the pollen count was only five.

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Doctor David Tanner says he expects the number to double next week and continue rising through April.  But perhaps the silver lining to the golden problem, is that he doesn't expect metro Atlanta to reach the all time high reached last year, when pollen counts topped out at 9,367.

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"Last year was sort of the perfect storm," said Tanner.

Severe allergy sufferers have already started getting their shots or seeking consultations to see what they can do to keep from clutching kleenexes.

"It was sad because my daughter wanted to go outside and play and I was like, no, we're not going.  And she's looking out the window," said Sherrell Smith, who came into the clinic for treatment.

For those who don't need shots but still find the season uncomfortable, Tanner has a few suggestions: Fight the urge to air out your house when the pollen count is high.  Keep your car windows up, too. When you get home, change your clothes.

"You ideally would go right to the shower, wash your skin and your hair to get all the pollen out so at least you don't bring your enemy to bed with you and sleep with it all night long," he added.

Tree pollen is driving the numbers right now, and for many allergy sufferers, it's affecting not only how the feel, but also what they can eat.   It's called oral allergy syndrome

Basically the body reacts to the pollen in certain fresh fruits and vegetables. It's not deadly, like peanuts, but Tanner says it can be annoying.

"You'll get itching of the tongue, itching of the throat," describes Tanner.

For someone allergic to Alder pollen, almonds, apples, celery, peaches, pears and berries are a few items that could act as triggers.  Birch pollen can also be found in hazel nuts, peppers, cherries, potatoes, fennel and figs.  Someone allergic to ragweed pollen may have problems eating bananas, cantaloupe, cucumbers, sunflower seeds and artichokes.

Tanner says a person can have a negative reaction to one item, but not the others.  Thankfully, eating the fruit or vegetable does not make other allergy symptoms, such as itchy eyes or runny noses, greater.

"It's interesting, it's the raw fruit. So a person who has oral allergy symptoms to apple often times can eat applesauce or apple pie and not have any problems at all," said Tanner.

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