Published on 03/23/16

Pollen counts help allergy sufferers manage symptoms

By Frank M. Watson

Pollen season has arrived. Cars are covered with yellow pine pollen and allergy sufferers are stocking up on their remedy of choice.

The dusty pollen that we see in the air is not the pollen that plagues allergy sufferers. However, oftentimes when we can see lots of pine pollen floating in the air, pollen counts for problem plants are often high as well.

According to data collected by the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic, Georgia’s pollen season peaks in early to mid-April, recedes in mid-May and resurfaces in mid-August.

Since the turn of the 20th century, pollen counting has been recognized as a valuable process this time of year. Not only have pollen counts advanced our knowledge of the role that plant pollen plays in causing allergy symptoms, like watery eyes, a runny nose, sore throat, coughing, and increased mucus and headaches, but it has also become a powerful tool for individuals.

Advanced knowledge of high pollen days can help allergy sufferers manage their symptoms.

“Allergy Alert” pollen levels from the website are measured on a scale of zero to 12. Low is 0 to 2.4, low to medium is 2.5 to 4.8, medium is 4.9 to 7.2, high to medium is 7.3 to 9.6 and high is 9.7 to 12. These levels take into account the amount of pollen that the allergy sufferer is likely to be exposed to for the given period.

Pollen forecasts help those with allergies plan their days in order to minimize the effects of pollen when counts are predicted to be high.

A popular pollen counting website is By typing in your ZIP code, you can get the most up-to-date pollen count and a list of the most prominent types of pollen in your area. In addition to helping allergy sufferers plan when to avoid the outdoors at home, websites like this help them plan for vacations and work trips.

Frank Watson is the University of Georgia Extension agent in Wilkes County, Ga.

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