Ah, spring — birds chirping, flowers blooming, sun shining ... and sneezing, wheezing, coughing and itching. The culprit: pollen.
According to pollen.com, pollen is a plant's only form of reproduction and it's produced in mass quantities. It is carried in the air and can land in a person's eyes, nose, lungs and on the skin.
Pollen is produced by trees, grass and weeds and spreads by wind.
The Weather Channel (website) and pollen.com recommend that allergy sufferers reduce their reaction to a pollen allergy by doing the following:
Keep windows closed in your home and car.
Avoid the highest pollen count time, which is between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Wash hands and face after being outside to remove pollen.
Buy HEPA filters for air conditioning units, a dehumidifier (which kills pollen spores and other allergens in the air) and/or an air-purifying machine.
Shed your shoes when you enter your home, and shower — and rinse or wash your hair — as soon as you come in for the day. Skin and hair hold a lot of pollen, which can trigger allergic reactions while we sleep.
Eat foods with natural antihistamine properties such as garlic, onions, citrus and apples.
Eat one to two teaspoons per day of locally produced bee pollen (which has no sugar) or honey, which contains small amounts of pollen, before allergy season starts. Ingesting the honey will help jumpstart your immune system against the local pollen.
Weather is a large factor in pollen and related allergies. According to weather.com, wind plays a large role in determining how much allergies will act up.
Windy conditions cause greater pollen and mold distribution and that leads to an increase in allergy symptoms.
Plant pollens carried by the wind are the cause of most nose, eye,and lung allergic reactions. Hay fever sufferers seem to be especially affected by windy, dry conditions.
Rain can bring welcome relief for allergy sufferers, if it rains heavily, that is. Light rain does little to reduce pollen in the air.
On the other hand, a good heavy rain can clean the air for hours during and after it falls.
In springtime, rain can help reduce tree pollen counts. However, wet conditions trigger grass growth and, consequently, more grass pollen in the late spring and early summer. Rain in the fall or winter can lead to greater tree pollen counts the following spring.
A mild winter can cause trees to pollinate earlier and could bring an early start to the allergy season. Mild and warm weather that continues in the spring also can increase pollen counts.
The pollen count is high and is predicted to be 10.3 today, 10.4 Saturday and 9.1 Sunday, according to pollen.com.
The Weather Channel website predicts showers are in the forecast for the weekend.
There is a 20 percent chance of rain on Friday, followed by a 30 percent chance of isolated thunderstorms on Saturday with the wind at eight miles per hour.
A 40 percent chance of rain with scattered thunderstorms is forecasted for Easter Sunday, with the wind at seven miles per hour.