By: Adam N. Williams, MD, Allergy & Asthma

For seasonal or pollen allergy sufferers, following daily pollen counts can seem to be as important as checking the daily weather forecast. Here are some things you should know about pollen counts.

Think local.

Be aware that many sources that report pollen counts use the National Allergy Bureau (NAB). The nearest NAB center is in Eugene, which has a very different climate, plants, and pollen seasons.  For example, grass pollen levels in Central Oregon are much lower and the season starts about 1 month later than in the Willamette Valley. Rely on pollen counts from allergy offices in our region.

Know the seasons.

You don’t need to be a pollen count expert to know roughly when its allergy season.  Each allergenic plant (trees, grasses, weeds and shrubs) has a pollen season. If you pay attention to what time of year you typically have symptoms, you can figure out what pollen levels should be by looking at the calendar – without even checking pollen counts. Trees, for example, usually kick off the allergy season by releasing pollen in the spring. Grass pollenates in early to mid summer. Weeds and shrubs pollenate in late summer and fall.

Think marathon not sprint.

Once the pollen season starts for a given plant, expect pollen levels to start low, gradually increase for a few weeks, plateau for a few weeks, then gradually decline. Because of this, it is better to think of pollen levels in terms of weeks to months rather than day-to-day fluctuations for 3 main reasons:

  • Pollen levels really don’t fluctuate that much day to day.
  • The symptoms that result from the allergic reaction can last for 2-3 days, so daily variations in pollen levels probably don’t matter.
  • Most of the medications used for treatment of allergies work better when taken consistently, on a daily basis, than when taken as needed, including antihistamines and allergy nasal sprays.

To learn more and make an appointment with Dr. Williams, please call 541-706-2524.


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