Allergies Pollen Forecasts

As winter ends and temperatures rise, plants start releasing pollen. Microscopic pollen grains blow into throats and noses, causing allergy sufferers to experience sneezing, coughing, and itching. People who are sensitive to pollen should pay attention to their local pollen forecast, and act accordingly.

How Pollen Causes Illness

A surge in emergency room visits occur when pollen counts rise. People who are knowledgeable about their specific pollen sensitivities can use pollen forecasts to know when to avoid spending long periods of time outside. Tree pollens are most present in the spring. Grass pollens are prominent in the summer, and weed pollens are problematic in the fall.

SeveralWeb sitesoffer pollen forecasts by zip code. The pollen forecast is reported as:

  • none
  • low
  • moderate
  • high
  • very high.

Pollen forecasts measure the pollen levels of the following:

  • grass
  • mold spores
  • trees
  • weeds.

How Pollen Forecasts Are Measured

Pollen forecasts, which are calculated by measuring the pollen count of the previous 24 hours, are offered by your local news as well as several reliableWebsites. The Weather Channel, Pollen.com, and AccuweatherWebsitesprovide pollen forecasts. TheseWeb sitesprovide a four day allergy forecast, which include the pollen count and the most active pollen types. For example, they may report that the pollen count is high, with Birch and Hackberry being predominant in the air. EachWeb siteis set up slightly different, but all contain the same information.

Many people who are sensitive to pollen begin experiencing allergic reactions when the pollen count is low or moderate. Typically, a high or very high pollen forecast causes the majority of seasonal allergy sufferersdiscomfort. The severity of the symptoms dependson the person and the specific pollen.

When the allergy conditions reach moderate levels, most allergy sufferers tend to experience symptoms, such as:

  • achiness
  • coughing
  • itching eyes
  • loss of voice
  • scratchy throat
  • sneezing.

Weather Factors Affecting the Pollen Forecast

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), the following weather factors affect the pollen forecasts:

  • heat
  • late freeze
  • mild winter
  • rain
  • wind.

A mild winter signifies an early start to allergy season. Trees will pollinate earlier after a mild winter, resulting in high pollen counts during the spring. Wind increases exposure to pollen by causing it to spread quickly. Warm weather encourages plant pollination, increasing allergy symptoms.

Fortunately, a late spring delays and lowers plant pollination. Rain washes pollen from the air and can provide temporary relief. However, a rainy winter can increase pollination in the spring, a rainy spring can stimulate pollination in the summer, and a rainy summer can encourage pollination in the fall.

Prevention and Treatment

If you have concerns about your seasonal allergies, check the pollen forecast. Stay inside on hot, dry, windy days when the pollen count is high, especially between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Wear a mask when working in the yard. Mowing spreads grass pollen and raking leaves stirs up mold spores. Always use a clothes dryer; hanging clothes to dry outside allows pollen spores to attach to them.

Several over-the-counter medications are very effective in combating allergy symptoms. Claritin is helpful for relieving a runny nose and itchy eyes. Mucinex helps relieve chest congestion and coughing. Nasal rinses wash the pollenthatattaches in the nasal passages.

A pollen diagnosis may be helpful for individuals who suffer severely from allergies. Talk to a doctor or board-certified allergists for more information on skin and blood tests.

Resources

Davis, J.L. (2006). Conquer your allergies. Retrieved March 17, 2009, from the WebMD Web site http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/conquer-your-allergies.

Heubeck, E. (2008). The weather: Wreaking havoc on health. Retrieved March 17, 2009, from the WebMD Web site: http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/the-weather-wreaking-havoc-on-health.