Looking at the outside of your car is a good indication of what season it is. Spring – and allergy season.
Sally Whitehead of Royal Oak Car Wash in Richmond Hill said the pollen season is a good thing for business.
"We’ve seen a huge influx of customers in the last month," Whitehead said. "We’re probably the few people that actually appreciate pollen season."
The pollen might be good for car washes but it’s a problem for many noses, eyes and throats.
Each plant pollinates around the same time each year, but weather conditions can affect how much pollen is in the air, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. In Georgia, pollen season begins around February and runs through November.
"There’s three pollen seasons. The stuff everyone sees right now is the tree pollen, which usually starts mid-January and runs through May," said Dr.- Brad Goodman, an allergy specialist at Coastal Allergy and Asthma, based in Savannah serving the coastal region. "What we predominantly see on cars is the pine pollen – which is usually too big to get into the airway. Smaller pollen particles of cedar, oak, sweet gum and birch pollens are causing problems for people"
Goodman said springtime is generally tree pollen season but grass pollen has actually started up already, too.
"It’s certainly out now and you think about grass being a seasonal thing, but in our area it can actually be a nine month long season," he explained. "The third pollen season is the fall, which is traditionally ragweed and goldenrod."
Goodman said, oftentimes, he sees more upper respiratory problems than actual allergies. He also pointed out that just because a person is allergic to one type of pollen, does not mean they’re allergic to all types. He said there is a skin test that can be done, which is less expensive and more accurate than a blood test, to check for which allergies are causing problems.
"It’ll tell you what kind of problem it is and it should be performed by an allergist, because we have an expertise in not only performing the test, but also interpreting the results."
More simple ways to help battle pollen allergies is to avoid spending time outside on high pollen count days and to keep windows closed in the home and car. Central heat and air filters should be changed regularly, and Goodman recommends a hair wash before going to bed at night.
"Bathing, and in particular washing your hair, prevents you from transferring pollen to your pillow, which you’ll then breathe in all night," he said. "Washing when you’ve been outside before touching bedding or furniture and washing pets that go outside regularly will also help."
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology provides daily pollen counts in Georgia, or ways to find an allergist, at www.aaaai.org.