Meridian, Miss. We've traded our winter coats for pollen coated cars, and that means that spring allergies are in full swing. Local pharmacies say that the number of people coming in for allergy medicine has drastically increased in the past week.
Billy Genann, the pharmacist at The Point, says, "We’ve seen a big increase in the last week or so. A lot of people are coming in complaining about coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, headaches. The pollen is going to get a lot worse than this before it's over with."
The cause for allergies is our bodies reacting to pollen the same way it reacts to a virus or bacterial infection. Our body releases a chemical that causes the itchy, watery eyes and runny nose; antihistamines try to counter the effects of this.
Dr. Mark Murray of Mississippi Asthma & Allergy Clinic says, "In certain individuals, the pollen enters the nose, stimulates the immune system and starts this reaction that leads you down the pathway to the sneezing, the itching, the runny nose, the congestion and all the things that go with it. Not everyone is susceptible to this but a lot of people in this area are so it can be a big problem here."
The yellow pollen coating our cars doesn't even cause the worst reactions; it's the smaller, unseen pollen that gives you the biggest problems.
Murray says, "The stuff that coats our cars is primarily the pine pollen and because it's so big, we see it. So it doesn't affect us as bad as the smaller pollens do. During this time of year, with the pine you also have the oak, the willow, and the pecan pollen and all that mixed in there. And those smaller particles can get a little deeper inside the nose, and get in the lungs and may lead to a bigger reaction."
To avoid the worst of this allergy season, try to limit time outside, keep doors and windows closed as much as possible, and keep a clean home.