Enquirer Herald

Brad Harvey: Rains bring brief relief from pollen

This has been the worst turkey season that I can remember, and it has nothing to do with the dismal forecast that our state’s biologists gave us this year in regard to the number of birds that are out there.

Instead, it’s had everything to do with the forecasts that we’ve received from the weatherman on TV each night.

Heavy rains throughout this month have kept many a turkey hunter at home. And while trying to look on the bright side, I’ve heard more than one of my gun-toting brethren say something like: “At least it’s knocking out all of that pollen!”

With apologies to ESPN’s Lee Corso, who has made this line famous: Not so fast, my friends.

Sure, the rain does, indeed, wash away most of the pollen that exists at that time, but Mother Nature has a funny way of knowing that.

Right on the heels of a heavy deluge, she more than makes up for it by enhancing the release on subsequent days after a round of storms, and the pollen count soars.

For as much as I love and look forward to the springtime turkey season, I loathe that evil, golden haze. The itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing and congestion brought on by it affects nearly four million people in the United States, and I sit far out on the extreme end of that group.

As a lifelong asthmatic with an unending list of allergies, you can add wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightening to the above symptoms that I regularly have to endure.

Were it not for the great medications that are on the market today, I would probably be forced to live entirely inside during this time of year.

Often referred to as “hay fever,” seasonal allergic rhinitis is the technical term used to describe what we sufferers deal with.

I have my own term for it, but it can’t be printed here. To understand the actual cause of it, one must first have a little better understanding of pollen itself.

Pollens are the minuscule, egg-shaped male cells of flowering plants, grasses, trees and weeds. These tiny, light cells are easily disseminated by the slightest breeze so that they can travel to other plants and reproduce. This is exactly where the problem lies.

Were it not for the fact that they are carried everywhere throughout the air, they could easily be avoided as we do with most anything else that we are allergic to. Instead, they slip silently through the air and, ultimately, right up our noses to begin the whole chain reaction of April misery.

Some of the biggest contributors of Mother Nature’s attack on us are trees such as pines, oaks, cedars, hickory and walnuts.

It’s quite easy to understand the difference in the amount of pollen given off by them, compared to flowers, just due to their massive size.

These culprits are able to distribute massive amounts of the yellow stuff from way up high so that it may be carried even further.

Ragweed is often mentioned as being a big supplier as well; however, it doesn’t do its dirty work until late summer and fall. We’ll wait a few months before we begin cursing it.

So what can we do to either protect ourselves or relieve the wretchedness?

A lot, actually.

Due to the advances in medicine, we are much better off today than what I remember from my younger years. Treatments such as prescription nose sprays and non-sedating antihistamines do a great job of making the spring more bearable.

Some, such as Zyrtec, are now available over the counter. Trust me when I tell ya that this one is a lifesaver for me, as I take it once a day year ’round.

It may sound funny, but have you ever thought of washing out your nose? No, I don’t expect you to be able to get a washcloth up there but you can purchase a number of different saline nasal washes that come in a spray. These do a super job of rinsing the allergens from the nasal lining, helping to reduce symptoms.

In general, do your best to stay away from the pollen altogether. Try this list of tips that may help you to relax and enjoy the spring a little more.

▪  Try to spend mornings inside as much as possible. Pollens are usually emitted during these hours.

▪  Forget cutting the grass altogether or cut the frequency in half, at least. Mowing stirs up the settled pollen. Sure, your yard may look like crap for a while but you’ll feel a lot better for it. And, really, who cares what the neighbors think anyway?

▪  Never hang clothing, sheets or towels out to dry.

▪  Keep your car windows closed at all times. Isn’t it worth it to feel better?

▪  Pay attention to the evening news telecast. During the weather report, every station tells what the expected pollen count and humidity level will be. When either is said to be high, stay inside,

▪  Did that weatherman say it was gonna be windy? Avoid the outdoors as much as possible on these days.

▪  Springtime temperatures are generally nice, but resist the urge to sleep with your windows open at night. This is especially true if it’s breezy.

▪  Take all over-the-counter allergy medications exactly as directed. Taking more than recommended in an attempt to gain greater benefit can actually backfire and cause more problems that you started with.

And, remember, the doctor is your friend. If things become downright unbearable, make a run into his office and see if something stronger will help you to see more improvement.

Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at www.bradharveyoutdoors.com or follow on Twitter @BHarveyOutdoors.