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Published on April 04, 2019

Do You Have a Pollen Allergy?

Person with allergies blows nose.

With tree pollen levels in our community reaching a seasonal high this month, you may be sniffling and sneezing more lately. Pollen allergy symptoms, sometimes called “hay fever” can reach its height when pollen is released by trees, grasses and weeds.

Pollen is the tiny, powdery granules given off by plants in order to carry out their reproductive process.

“Trees begin producing pollen as early as January in the Southern U.S., and continue producing through June,” said Dr. Daniel Whitley, Jr., Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist at UNC ENT at Goldsboro. “If you’re experiencing symptoms of pollen allergy or allergic asthma, now is a good time to check in with your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.”

Common pollen allergy symptoms are:

  • Runny nose and mucus production
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy nose, eyes, ears and mouth
  • Stuffy nose (nasal congestion)
  • Red and watery eyes
  • Swelling around the eyes

If you have allergic asthma and are allergic to tree pollen, you may also have asthma symptoms when the trees are pollenating.

“Unfortunately, tree pollen can be pretty difficult to avoid. Because it is finer than other pollens, the wind can carry it for miles,” said Dr. Whitley. “These light, dry grains can easily find their way to your sinuses, lungs and eyes.”

While it may be impossible to avoid pollen entirely, the following tips may help:

  • Stay indoors if possible, especially on windy days
  • If you’re planning outdoor activities, try to plan them following rain
  • Remove clothes you have worn outside to avoid tracking pollen throughout the house
  • Brush pets after they have been outside, or keep them outside
  • Monitor pollen counts, and close doors and windows when the pollen counts are high
  • Vacuum regularly, and use a HEPA filter to clear the air.

An ENT specialist can test for allergic reactions and prescribe immunotherapy to gradually reduce your body’s sensitivity to allergens.

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