Pollen has Tennesseans feeling miserable, here’s what you can do about it

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – If you are like many, your eyes have been itching, and your throat has been scratchy. It’s allergy season. It’s something folks in Middle Tennessee deal with this time of the year.

So, what’s in the air right now? It’s mostly tree pollen.

The Metro Public Health Department’s pollen count has tree pollen in the high range (8 out of 12). The Vanderbilt Asthma, Sinus and Allergy Program has trees in the medium range, along with grass.

They both have something in common: Hickory and Walnut tree pollen.

If you are suffering from pollen allergies, there are some over the counter medications and also treatments provided by medical professionals that can help.

“Flonase sometimes helps if you have a stuffy nose, itchy nose, itchy eyes,” explained Dr. S. Steve Samudrala, Medical Director for America’s Family Doctors. “And then, things like Zyrtec or Xyzal, those things help as well. And if it’s eye irritation, these are all over-the-counter meds. Zaditor, it’s an eye drop antihistimine. That seems to help, too.”

And if your allergies are still really bad there are allergy shots. But if you don’t like shots, there’s a similar treatment called called “sub-lingual drops”.

“It’s basically, the allergist would create a little cocktail of what you are allergic to, just in a small amount, and you would put it under your tongue,” Dr. Samudrala said. “And then your body ends up thinking it’s essentially part of your body and stops thinking of it as an invader and stops making an allergic response to those allergins.”

And there are some unique aspects about this season following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re seeing a log of patients,” noted Dr. Samudrala. “Why exactly, a little bit of an extra surge this year? With COVID, people were masking, not going outside as much. That may protect them a little bit from allergies and pollen counts. But now, thanks to the CDC, if we’re vaccinated, the masks are off. The perk on that is freedom. But of course, allergies.”

“The climate has been changing, of course,” Dr. Samudrala said. “There’s been an extra 20 days of allergy season from the ’90s to 2018 when we did our studies. The main reason is that actually a lot of the time the plants get confused. Because it will get warm, it will get cold, and it will get warm again. So the pollen counts are going up.”

So, it’s tree pollen for now. Grass pollen takes over during the summer, and weeds, including the dreaded ragweed, predominate in late summer.

Dr. Samudrala said he suffers from allergies too.

“I’ve probably, the last seven, eight, nine years run the Country Music Marathon in the spring,” he said. “But my nose would run faster than my legs to the point that I couldn’t even run because of the allergies. But finally, I did do the allergy shots we have in the office. And now I’m on no meds and I am able to focus on just my legs and not my nose!”

Good advice from a doctor who knows firsthand.

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