COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)— Temperatures are on the rise, and so is the pollen count. Folks across the Chattahoochee Valley may have noticed pollen on the tops of cars, pooling in puddles of water, or collecting on roadways.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a quarter of adults and one in five children in the U.S. have a seasonal allergy. Dr. Matthew Bolinger, an ear, nose, and throat physician with Piedmont here in Columbus, says right now people are predominantly experiencing tree allergies. This will be followed by grass season, then weed season, all of which is expected to last several months. However, year-round allergies, like dust and mold allergies, are more pronounced during the blooming season.

“One of the mistakes that people make is when they say, ‘oh, I’m allergic to grasses, I cut the grass and I have allergies.’ For a lot of people, that’s actually a mold allergy that is being stirred up by a well-watered lawn, or the grass, or the lawnmower blades themselves,” Dr. Bolinger said. “It’s usually when grass goes to seeds and they’re germinating and they’re releasing everything out there.”

Most symptoms are triggered when plants are germinating and budding. Symptoms can manifest as congestion, a runny nose, sneezing, and eye irritation among other things. All of which are the bodies way of expelling the allergen.  

“One of the important things is keeping your nose as clean as possible. The nose is an air filter. Its job is to grab all the nasty stuff out of the air, so it doesn’t get deeper into the body. That’s why so many people manifest with sino-nasal symptoms because that’s where the stuff is,” Dr. Bolinger said.

People without seasonal allergies can still be experiencing symptoms during high pollen counts. He recommends anyone experiencing symptoms to use a nasal saline spray or sinus rinse. From there, he recommends looking at medication options with your doctor.

Dr. Bolinger also recommends people be aware of their symptoms, and if anything seems out of the usual for an allergy or cold, seek medical attention.

“If it seems worse than usual, particularly if you’re running a fever, or particularly if you ever have any tender areas or swelling in your neck, it’s important to get checked out to make sure that it’s not an infection. It’s not something else going on,” Dr. Bolinger said. “Unfortunately, a lot of conditions of the head and neck being infections or even more worrisome things. The initial symptoms a lot of times can mimic allergies. Some people will have symptoms for years that they’re just writing off as allergies. And unfortunately, by the time they come in, there’s something nastier going on.”