Pollen from trees covering the Willamette Valley may trigger allergy symptoms

The Willamette Valley is known for its amazing grass pollen counts in the summer. But if you have itchy eyes and sneezing after being outdoors, chances are you’re reacting to spring pollinators.

Trees pollinate successively during their particular season. Conifers begin to pollinate from December to May. In early spring, we see pollen from hazelnuts, birches and alders. Then Oaks and Willows explode.

Judy Moran is with Oregon Allergy Associates in Eugene. It has been recording daily pollen counts for 44 years.

Oregon Allergy Associated

Oregon Allergy Associates is one of approximately 50 stations nationwide that collects and contributes pollen counts to a scientific database for the National Allergy Bureau. Pollen is collected using a Burkard air sampler, located on the second floor of their office at 15th and Oak Street in downtown Eugene.

“You’re 24 hours of exposure is going to equal 24 hours of symptoms,” Moran said. “So if you’re going to a baseball game or something, then you might be willing to stay in the house the rest of the day to limit your total daily exposure.”

Moran said the weather was important. We will be more exposed on warmer and windier days. The rain packs the pollen into the air and onto surfaces, but the sunshine that follows helps pollinators enthusiastically pick up again.

Moran told KLCC that there are common sense things that can be done to limit pollen exposure. She suggested keeping your car and home windows rolled up, washing your hair before you go to bed, and controlling indoor allergens like dust and mold, as these will increase your overall exposure when the pollen is high.

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There are many medications, both over-the-counter and prescribed, to relieve allergy symptoms. These are examples from the journalist’s medicine cabinet.

She added that there are great over-the-counter or prescription medications available from a primary care provider or allergist. There are allergy shots for those who cannot be relieved by available medications.

Moran said they used to tell people to move elsewhere to relieve their allergies. But because the treatments are so effective now, they don’t recommend it anymore.

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