Achoo! With pollen comes allergy season


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Step outside and you'll see it: Pollen is seemingly everywhere.

Cars are coated with the yellow dust.

So just how bad is the allergy season this year, and what can you do to prevent the sniffling and sneezing?

Experts say this year is no worse than normal. In fact, cooler temperatures and rainfall as of late is reducing some of the pollen in northeast Florida.

For those with allergies, it's not always easy to enjoy the spring.

"It's been really bad this year," Elizabeth Donnelly said. "I was sick for about three weeks this year with sinuses."

"Jacksonville is traditionally in the top 25 for bad spring pollen seasons in America, sometimes in the top 10 cities that make that list," said Dr. Sunil Joshi, of Family Allergy and Asthma Consultants. "Usually Atlanta and Gainesville are on that list and we're right in the middle of those two cities."

Joshi said between February and May is a particularly tough time for people with allergies.

Sneezing, itchy, runny eyes and sinus infections can be the result of allergies. Allergies could also be to blame for those who have bronchitis.

Joshi said oak trees are problematic for some, and the yellow pollen often seen on cars comes from pine trees.

"I washed it all off yesterday and when I got back out this morning it was as bad as it was when I washed it yesterday," Peggy Becker said of the pollen on her car. "I have a gray car and you can see it."

Joshi said those with allergies should minimize their time outdoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., keep their windows shut at home and in their cars, keep their air conditioner on at home to reduce humidity, and consider using over-the-counter medications. Joshi also recommends seeing a doctor if over-the-counter medications are not helping.

In the meantime, people dealing with allergies hope they can deal with all of the pollen.

"I hope it clears out real soon, but it's not looking too good," Donnelly said.

"It makes me hope I won't have too many problems with my allergies, which I won't know for sure how they are until summer," LeeAnn Smith said.

Joshi said in the summer there will be grass pollen to look forward to, and then in September there will be ragweed pollen.

For more information on how to deal with pollen, go to Pollen.com.