Pike County sees fair share of pollen

Published 8:51 pm Tuesday, April 6, 2010

“Bless you” is a familiar sentiment this time of year as trees comes into bloom, allergies flare up and the county succumbs to a yellow dust bowl.

Allergy sufferers might get sniffles just by looking at the gold film on their vehicles, but looks can be deceiving.

Ironically, Dr. Michael Woods, a professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Troy University, said the agents responsible for itchy eyes are those that are harder to see.

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Woods said that oak, willows and poplar are the culprits releasing allergens. The yellow powder you can see everywhere is from pine, which is more of an aesthetic inconvenience than a health nuisance.

For Troy resident Brett Vann, it has definitely been bothersome.

“On Saturday, I pulled my truck out of my barn and washed it off,” he said. “I took it to town and drove it for one day, and when I brought it back I had to wash it off again.”

Vann said the pollen this year is the worst he has seen.

“By far it’s the worst,” he said. “I can tell you that because I live on a pond, and I’ve never seen the pond with this much pollen on it.”

Woods said the pollen is bad this year due to dry conditions.

“So much has built up because of a lack of rain,” he said.

With rain in the forecast only one day out of the next 10, Pike County residents should be prepared to continue the fight against spring fever, especially those susceptible to allergens.

Dr. J. Allen Meadows, a board certified allergist in Montgomery, said there are three basic ways to deal with problems associated with allergies: pills, allergy shots and prescription nasal sprays.

“Pills are the least effective, but they’re the most rapid,” he said.

Meadows said that most pills are available over-the-counter and he specifically recommended a generic version Zyrtec.

The best method in treating allergies, Meadows said, is allergy desensitization.

“It gets to the root of the problem,” he said. “It changes the immune system.”

While the process takes six months to start working and can be expensive, Meadows said the resulting change in quality of life, can pay off dividends.

“I tell my patients all the time it’s an investment of time and an investment of money.”

For those who opt not to endure the desensitization process, Meadows said that prescription nasal sprays, which can be obtained through a primary care physician, are an effective alternative.

Meadows also recommended visiting www.eallergy.yourmd.com or www.allergyandast hmarelief.org for detailed information including allergy self-testing and self-treatment.

There are plenty more high-pollen level days to come and with them much more sneezing, sniffling and car washing.

Still, Woods reminded people to remember the process of Mother Nature, particularly when it comes time to reap the rewards of pollination.

“If it wasn’t for pollen,” he said, “we wouldn’t have the fruit this fall.”