WASHINGTON (7News) — It is a perfect week to get outdoors, but make sure to pack the tissue as tree pollen levels are forecasted to be very high. This time of year in the DMV, we often think about cherry blossoms but the big allergy culprits are maple, elm and juniper trees.
This type of pollen is wind-driven, meaning a breeze can push the fine yellowish powder on your body, in your eyes and can be inhaled in the lungs. The result is coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes and sometimes hives. It can even escalate to asthma attacks and low blood pressure.
Even if you remove some of the top allergens from your own yard, tree pollen can travel miles.
7News' Health Reporter Victoria Sanchez spoke to Allergist Dr. Troy Baker with Kaiser Permanente, who said over-the-counter antihistamines are a good preventative measure and there are ways to help after exposure.
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“Washing your hair when you come in at night, washing your clothing so you get the pollen off your clothes and you’re not putting it on your couch, furniture or bed.”
“What about pets that are going outside and bringing stuff in?” asked Sanchez.
“That is absolutely true. So, pets when they go outside, are going to collect pollen all over their fur and bring it in. Often, people will think they have a dog or cat allergy because they’re playing with their pets and their pets are making them feel bad. So, if you can wipe down your pet when they come in, although it’s an added hassle, or give your pet a bath on a regular basis, that does help,” said Dr. Baker.
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Pets can suffer from allergies too. Some signs your four-legged friend might be struggling, include scratching, excessive licking of paws and belly, puffy eyes and head shaking. Check with your veterinarian to see if eye drops or oral medications can help.
After the tree pollen eases up, grasses and weeds are the next to cause issues. If allergy medication only curbs some of the discomforts, check your local allergy report before you plan outdoor activities.