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Pollen

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:45 pm
Each spring, summer, and fall, tiny particles are released from trees, weeds, and grasses. These particles, called pollen, are blown by the wind in order to fertilize other plants. Often they end up in our eyes and noses and cause allergic rhinitis (rine-EYE-tis) (sometimes known as 'hay fever' or 'rose fever'), which results in sneezing, coughing, itching, runny nose, and watery eyes. The types of pollen that usually cause these symptoms come from plain looking plants that don't produce colorful flowers. In spring, trees are responsible for most of the pollen in the air, especially elm, hackberry, mulberry, and oak; in summer, the grasses produce most of the pollen, including rye, timothy, redtop, Bermuda, orchard, and bluegrass; in fall, ragweed is the main culprit. It's almost impossible to avoid pollen in any of these seasons because it can travel by wind for many miles. If you suffer from pollen allergies, check the pollen count in your area before you leave home. The allergy index in the newspaper or on you local news can tell you how much pollen's in the air. Staying indoors with the windows closed and the air conditioner on can help reduce the effects of pollen. You can also try antihistamines (an-tih-HIHS-ta-meens) and over-the-counter drugs to combat the allergy, but if problems persist, allergy injections may be the best course of action. Allergists also recommend nasal steroid sprays for relief during allergy season, so call your doctor to find out your options.
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