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Fast facts about spring pollen

Five answers to common questions about pollen allergies

April 26, 2013|Meteorologist Brent Watts

Let the sneezing begin. It's that time of year when the sniffles don't necessarily mean you have a cold or the flu. It could be allergies caused by pollen. As the trees, flowers and grasses begin to bud, tiny pollen particles become airborne and we inhale them without even thinking about it.

Below are the top 5 most asked questions about pollen in our area.

Do pollen allergies occur only in the spring?
No. Pollen grains can be dispersed into the air in the spring, summer and fall, depending on the type of tree, grass or weed. For example, ragweed is a common cause of pollen allergy reactions in the fall. In mild climates, some plants pollinate in the winter as well.

What time of day is pollen the worst?
Generally, pollen is most abundant in the early morning, especially between 5:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Other considerations, however, also determine higher pollen amounts, such as wind speed, or lack of wind. Also, rain can wash pollen out of the air for a short time, and some plants may not pollinate in damp weather.

Which trees and grasses produce the most allergens?
Plain-looking trees, grasses and weeds, which do not have showy flowers, produce the types of pollen that most commonly cause allergic reactions.

These plants manufacture small, light, dry pollen granules that are custom-made for wind transport. Although most allergenic pollen comes from plants that produce it in huge quantities, it's the chemical makeup of the pollen that determines whether it is likely to cause hay fever.

Why are some people allergic to pollen while others are not?
People inherit a tendency to be allergic, meaning an increased likelihood of being allergic to one or more allergens (such as pollen), although they probably do not inherit a tendency to be allergic to any specific allergens. Children are much more likely to develop allergies if their parents have allergies, even if only one parent is allergic. Exposure to allergens at certain times when the body's defenses are lowered or weakened, such as after a viral infection or during pregnancy, also seems to contribute to the development of allergies.

Where can I get information on the pollen count where I live?
WDBJ7.com has an exclusive partnership with Pollen.com and receives updated forecasts for our area. Click here to get the 3-Day outlook. We will also show the pollen levels on-air on WDBJ7 at 6.

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Sources: Pollen.com | National Allergy Bureau

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