High pollen count affects allergy sufferers

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Spring blooms may be beautiful to look at, but it’s a different outlook for allergy sufferers.

“Spring is a big time for the allergies,” said Dr. Donald Harper, an allergist with Medical Arts Allergy in Lower Paxton Township. “We have lots of trees and this time of year, they just kind of explode. In Pennsylvania at this time, it’s predominantly tree pollen.”

Harper says those suffering from a sore throat, runny noses and itchy eyes don’t have the symptoms because of the most colorful ornamental trees with vibrant pink, white and purple blooms. Instead, it’s the common trees all around us like oak, maple and ash trees. Those trees produce tiny flowers, called catkins, which emit the green and yellow pollen that often coats the surface of our vehicles.

After the pollen is carried through the air by the wind, the catkins, which fall as stringy green clumps, can often be seen lying on the sidewalk or road beneath the trees which produced them.

“The number one thing you can do is try to avoid contact with the pollen,” Harper said. “Unfortunately, this time of year, that means stay inside. Drive with the windows rolled up. Some simple things you can do is take a quick shower before you go to bed to get the pollen out of your hair and off your face.”

Harper says over-the-counter and prescription antihistamines and steroid nose sprays are the most effective remedies for most allergy symptoms, though some severe sufferers may benefit from a series of allergy shots.

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