This week, the people in the north Georgia area awoke to cars, lawns, driveways and whole streets blanketed in a heavy dusting of that sickly-looking, yellow powder, signaling each year that winter is finally gone and spring is here — pollen season is upon us.
But, it hasn’t been a normal pollen season.
According to numbers from the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Pollen Count, the tree pollen count from April 4, broke 4,000 particles per cubic meter of air, more than quadrupling what is considered normal.
Local Cumming resident Erin Dunn said that leaving her house each morning, she worries what condition the day’s fog of pollen will have on her health.
“I fear for my health every time I walk outside. I’m no longer breathing air, I’m breathing the yellow death,” she said.
According to local Ear Nose and Throat doctor, Joel Hoffman of North Atlanta ENT & Allergy in Cumming, it’s the pollen you can’t see that people need to worry most about.
“That yellow pollen that everyone is seeing is not allergenic,” Hoffman said with a laugh. “That specific one doesn’t cause allergies, but what it is, is letting you know that there are a lot of other things out there that are causing them.”
He said that at his clinic, they see patients for pollen related allergies and problems year round, because different plants bloom and put out pollen year round.
But barring the use of a mask anytime one is outside, Hoffman said that there is really no good way to avoid pollen in the spring.
He said the best way to minimize suffering during allergy season is to limit exposure to the outdoors, wash hair, clothing and bedding regularly to avoid tracking pollen into the home, and use over-the-counter medications such as Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec to minimize symptoms.
“Allegra is my favorite because it works as well as Zyrtec, but it doesn’t cause any sedation,” he said.
If things get really bad, Hoffman said that one might want to be put through allergy testing by an Ear Nose Throat specialist. He said that anyone who does develop allergies has options for treatment including immunotherapy and other medication.
“I think that the real thing is that if you are sensitive is to try and stay in your car or in the house and not outside and exposed so much,” Hoffman said.