By VICKI BROWN
In case you didn’t notice the bright yellow, grainy sticky stuff coating absolutely everything, it’s pollen season. South Carolina pine trees are emitting fertilizer, and, according to the National Weather Service, the pollen count is very high this season.
Pollen is measured with a system called a “rotorod.” The sampling device uses clear rods coated with a silicone grease which are set out for 24 hours. The rotorods are then examined for the number of pollen grains covering portions of the rod.
The number of grains will place the pollen in a category of low, moderate, high, or very high. As you can probably guess, at this time of the season, the pollen count is “very high.” Since the state experienced a warmer, wet winter, trees are pollenating earlier than usual, according to the NWS.
Oddly enough, most of your allergy problems like itchy eyes, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and itchy ear canals, are caused by pollen you can’t see. Those microscopic pollens come from grasses, newly sprouted weeds and from the many other trees common to South Carolina. There are at least 18 major tree pollens in the Lowcountry that start to pollenate in late February. This pollination season can continue until May.
When the air is dry, there is less moisture to weigh down the pollen grains when the wind blows. Rain can help wash the pollen away and keep it from moving through the air. Higher humidity also helps keep pollen numbers down.
But what can you do to help alleviate some of your symptoms in the meantime?
On an average day, pollen counts rise during the morning, peak about midday, and then gradually fall. So the lowest pollen counts are usually before dawn and in the late afternoon to early evening. Try to stay indoors during the peak hours.
Wearing a mask can help keep pollen from being inhaled, so those pesky mask ordinances are coming in handy right now. Sunglasses or eyewear can also help with symptoms.
Shower after being outdoors for any length of time. To remove pollen you pick up outside, take a shower and change your clothes.
Keep pollen outside, not inside. Keep your windows shut and use your AC. Use an air purifier to filter allergens.
Check the WeatherLearn when conditions such as the wind increase pollen levels, so you can prepare.
See a doctor to get relief. There are many over the counter medications you can take to help with the symptoms, but always check with your doctor first to be sure they are safe for you and compatible with medications you have already been prescribed.