It’s an Early Spring – What Can You Do Now?

People in the Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland metropolitan area as  well as in the Northeast are experiencing record warm temperatures this Winter.  This warm weather seems to have confused the trees into releasing their pollen much earlier this year than in previous normal years.  In February of this year, tree pollen counts hit “high” levels a few times, when normally they are at the most a “low” level by the end of February.  In addition to Washington, DC, the tree pollen counts has been much higher than normal this February in the following Northern Virginia cities:  Tysons Corner, VA, Vienna, VA, McLean, VA, Great Falls, VA, Arlington, VA, Fairfax, VA, Falls Church, VA, Alexandria, VA, Annandale, VA, Reston, VA, Herndon, VA, Sterling, VA, Oakton, VA, Burke, VA, Bristow, VA, Manassas, VA, Centreville, VA, Chantilly, VA, Haymarket, VA, Gainesville, VA, Warrenton, VA, Springfield, VA, Ashburn, VA, Dumfries, VA, Culpeper, VA, Leesburg, VA, and Purcellville, VA.  In Maryland, the tree pollen counts have also been “high” this February in the following cities:  Potomac, MD, North Potomac, MD, Rockville, MD, Gaithersburg, MD, Germantown, MD, Olney, MD, Darnestown, MD, Bethesda, MD, North Bethesda, MD, Chevy Chase, MD, Great Falls, MD, Silver Spring, MD, Wheaton, MD, College Park, MD, Hyattsville, MD, Beltsville, MD, Bowie, MD, Clinton, MD, Temple Hills, MD, Columbia, MD, Annapolis, MD, and Baltimore, MD.

Tree pollen usually begins to pollinate in late February and generally stops pollinating in May, however this year, tree pollen was seen in January.  Along with tree pollen comes misery for millions of allergic individuals who are sensitive to tree pollen.  The symptoms that allergic individuals typically experience may include sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy nose, post-nasal drip, itchy throat, sinus congestion, sinus headaches, itchy eyes, puffy eyes, watery eyes, fatigue, snoring, and/or asthma (e.g., wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing).  Many people with hay fever (i.e., allergic rhinitis) are more prone to developing sinus infections (i.e., sinusitis) as well.

In order to try to ward off allergy and asthma symptoms at the beginning of the season, several things can be done by the allergy sufferer before the symptoms begin or certainly before the symptoms get bad.  Some of these things that can be done in order to help prevent allergy symptoms include:

  1. If doing yardwork or exercising outdoors, wash and change your clothes and take a shower after come inside.
  2. If you must do yardwork, wear a mask, preferably a respirator mask with a HEPA filter.
  3. Keep the windows and/or sunroof closed in your cars.
  4. Wash your pet if he/she has been outdoors for a prolonged period of time as the fur/hair collects pollen.
  5. If you need to do outdoor activities, try to do them in the late afternoon or after it rains, when the pollen levels are lower. Pollen counts are higher in the mornings.
  6. Watch the pollen count. You can check it daily on our website.  Click Today’s Pollen Count.
  7. If you need to go outdoors, try to avoid going out in hot, windy, dry days as the pollen counts tend to be higher on these days.
  8. Make sure you clean and/or change your filters in both your home and car.
  9. Make sure the setting on your car’s air conditioning system is set on recycle in order to avoid fresh air from the outside from entering your vehicle.
  10. Begin your allergy medications at the beginning of the season or even a few days before the season begins, only if suggested by your allergist.
  11. If you are on allergy shots (I.e., allergy immunotherapy, allergy injections, allergy desensitization), increase the frequency of the injections at the start of the season and continue that increased frequency throughout the season.

The board certified allergists at Black & Kletz Allergy have been diagnosing and treating allergic rhinitis and asthma in both adults and children for more than 50 years in the Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland metropolitan area.  We have 3 office locations, all of which offer on-site parking.  Our offices are located in Washington, DC, McLean, VA (Tysons Corner, VA), and Manassas, VA.  The Washington, DC and McLean offices are Metro accessible and there is a free shuttle that runs between our McLean, VA office and the Spring Hill metro station on the silver line.  For an appointment, please call us at one of our locations or alternatively, you can click Request an Appointment and we will respond within 24 hours by the next business day.  The allergy doctors at Black & Kletz Allergy have the expertise in order to take outstanding care of your allergy, asthma, sinus, skin-related disorders, and immunological needs.  Our goal is to serve the greater Washington, DC metro community with first-rate allergy care with boundless dedication and great pride as we have done for many years.