What Does The Pollen Count Mean?

Dr. Mai-Vy Hoang 03/01/2017

pollen-flower.pngAs winter meanders toward its conclusion, it's time to start thinking about spring and all that comes with it — warmer temperatures, outdoor activities, gardening, and much more.

For many, however, spring can bring on allergies. It's also a time to closely monitor pollen counts to help reduce your allergy symptoms and keep them from getting severe.

What Is Pollen?

Pollen consists of tiny particles released from grasses, weeds, and trees during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Pollen can cause allergic reactions as it enters your nose and throat. While not everyone is allergic to pollen, the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases estimates 35 million Americans complain of symptoms related to pollen. Scientists believe that some people inherit the tendency to be allergic.

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis, is the most common allergic reaction to pollen. Pollen allergy symptoms include watery eyes, coughing, increased mucus from the nose, headaches, a sore throat, and even asthma. There are a variety of plants known to cause pollen allergies, but ragweed is the most common source in the Texas Panhandle.

Why Is The Pollen Count Important?

Pollen count measures how much pollen is in the air at a specific time in a specific area. The measurement consists of grains of pollen per square meter of air collected over a 24-hour period. Pollen counts are typically highest early in the morning on warm, breezy days, and lowest during periods of chilly, wet weather. Weather conditions affect the amount of pollen produced and its distribution, and dry, windy weather is an ideal time for pollen because it can spread over a long distance.

Pollen counts allow you to see how you could be affected by pollen in your hometown or anywhere in the nation. Understanding it helps you to limit your exposure to pollen to reduce the odds that you'll suffer allergic symptoms. Because pollen counts change frequently, it's important to check a pollen forecast regularly. Staying inside whenever possible during windy days will help reduce your allergy symptoms.

Pollen.com offers a free national and local pollen count service that provides you with a 5-day pollen forecast for your area.

Broome Optical in Amarillo provides expert eye care for allergy sufferers. Ask them how you can address eye-related allergy symptoms.

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