LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Spring has sprung and so has the pollen.
“Arkansas is typically in the top 10 states as far as allergies are concerned, because we have a long pollinating season. It’s warm and humid, and it doesn’t get that cold. We start early and finish late, and people in Arkansas tend to suffer quite a bit,” said Arkansas Allergy and Asthma Clinic Allergist Dr. Eddie Shields.
Shields added, “April is typically the worst month cause not only in April do we have the tree pollen, but the grasses start to pollinate as well.”
More people go outside during April as temperatures warm up, so there is more exposure to pollen in general. The average high temperature in April in Little Rock is around 73°F.
Warm, sunny, dry weather is enjoyable for many people to get outdoors, and easier to spread pollen. Additionally, wind plays a role.
“Wind actually makes the allergens worse because the pollen is blown through the air, so on high wind, sunny and low humidity days, the pollen counts tend to be higher,” said Shields.
WORST WEATHER CONDITIONS FOR ALLERGY SUFFERERS IN SPRING:
- Low humidity
- Warm (60°F+)
When it comes to tree pollen, flowering ones (like pear trees) are for bees and pollinators. It’s the non-flowering trees from mid/late February through the first of May spiking hay fever symptoms.
Elm, maple, hickory, and oak trees are typically the source for allergies in Arkansas this time of years, said Shields.
A good rain can relieve allergy symptoms by washing pollen out of the air, but only briefly.
Longer-term relief starts with avoiding what you’re allergic to in the first place, said Shields.
TIPS TO HELP WITH POLLEN DURING SPRING:
- Keep windows shut in your house and car
- Shower and wash hair after spending time outdoors
- Wash your pets if they spend time outside
- Use masks and protective eyewear while doing yard work
Medication is another option.
Over-the-counter nasal sprays tend to be the most effective according to Shields. These medications are preventive, and Shields advises starting them now and continuing for a few months if allergies are giving you trouble daily.
Another option to provide more immediate relief from sneezing, itching and runny nose, is an antihistamine by mouth. It does not matter which brand but be aware some could cause drowsiness.
If avoiding pollen and taking medication aren’t working, Shields said allergy shots and immunotherapy could be a third option for those suffering from allergies.
WHEN DOES POLLEN SEASON END? Tree and grass pollen should lessen during summer but are still present. A second pollen season peaks in Arkansas in early fall due to ragweed in late August, September, and October.