Are allergies bad right now? It depends on where you live. Contrary to what the weather continually tells us, it is spring — and soon the brown, dull dirt will be replaced with green grass, blooming flowers and trees. And plenty of pollen.
According to AccuWeather, Southern states like Florida and Georgia were the “lucky” first people to get hit with spring tree pollen — and the resulting allergies. Those allergies will continue to roll to the Northeast and Midwest, though at a slower clip than usual thanks to the unseasonably cold weather this year.
“The pollen levels may take until April or even early May to really increase over parts of Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert. Yay.
So, are allergies bad, and is this the worst they'll get?
Are allergies bad? Yes, but this year it’s predicted to be even worse for the estimated 36 million Americans who suffer through seasonal allergies. With the delay of spring, "you're increasing the density of the pollen on a given day," SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry professor Don Leopold told Newsday. "It might seem like a more intense amount of pollen."
But Reppert disagrees, telling Time that while “it might a little bit higher,” the current models male him think that it “doesn't look like it's going to be a rapid ramp-up to above average," he said. "We're looking at probably near-normal pollen levels for much of the Northeast into the Midwest also."
How to treat allergies
You might rely on Zyrtec or Claritin or any of the other over-the-counter allergy pills, but you might want to shell out for prescription-strength nasal sprays instead. "They actually reduce the inflammation in the lining of the nose," Pamela Georgeson, DO, member of the AAAAI Public Education committee and an allergist in Chesterfield Township, Michigan, told WebMD of sprays like Flonase and Nasonex. Reduced inflammation means you won’t feel as stuffed up — or look as red — as you would without medication.
It goes against everything we want to do when the weather gets nice, but try to avoid the outdoors as much as you can when pollen counts are high. Wear sunglasses and a face mask (if it gets really bad) to keep the allergens from getting in your eyes, nose and mouth. Outdoor exercise should be done in either the early morning or late evening — and try to shower at night to get rid of leftover allergens that got stuck in your hair.
And just remember that it’ll all be over soon. Reppert predicts that above-average rainfall will keep grass pollen at bay by June in the Mid-Atlantic.