Do You Know Your Pollen Count?

  • Pollen is the culprit behind the seasonal allergy symptoms that are making me—and lots of other people throughout the US—miserable this time of year.


    What is pollen? Pollens are tiny, egg-shaped cells in flowering plants that are necessary to fertilize the plant. The average pollen particle is too small to be seen with the naked eye—it's less than the width of an average strand of human hair.


    Significant levels of pollens are in the air from early spring through late fall, depending on where you live. In warmer climates, pollens may be present in the air most of the year. Not all pollens circulate in the air; only the light, dry types found in certain varieties of trees, grasses, and weeds do.

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    One of the best ways to control seasonal allergy symptoms is to avoid your triggers. If pollen is one of your triggers, you know how hard it is to avoid this time of year. But one method you can use is to stay indoors as much as possible when the pollen counts are high.


    But how do you know what the pollen counts are for your area? Actually, there are several different ways you can stay informed about your local pollen counts.

    • Local newscasts. Most TV stations and many radio stations regularly announce pollen counts or at least "air quality" throughout the year. This is probably your most reliable information, but you have to be tuning in at the right times to hear it.
    • National Allergy Bureau. This American Academy of Asthma Allergy and Immunology's division has pollen and spore counting stations that are staffed mostly by AAAAI member volunteers.  They claim to be highly accurate, but they may not always be current. For example, when I checked today for my area, the last count on record was from March, well before the height of the allergy season. But, if you want to check your area, visit this page: Regional counts
    • This site has tons of information about pollen and allergies, and you can get counts by zip code. You can even view information on specific types of pollen. Check it out here.

    So, if you know pollen counts are high in your area, stay inside in air conditioning with your windows shut tight as much as you can. Also, take your allergy medicine as prescribed. That should help you feel better!

Published On: May 27, 2007