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Ode to Oak Pollen: How to find relief!

Posted Apr 10 2011 3:12pm

Oak pollen This is a picture of my patio table. It’s usually brown. But my patio table, like my entire town, is covered in a lovely blanket of yellow as the oak trees have turned their reproductive instincts into high gear. Those oak trees will be happily making lots of acorns. Meanwhile, we humans are suffering the consequences!

About 40% of kids (usually age five and up) and 10-30% of adults (usually young adults) suffer from seasonal allergies. A person’s body is irritated by the pollen, resulting in an itchy nose/eyes/throat, watery eye drainage, watery runny nose, a drip down the back of the throat, a hacking cough, and a feeling of being tired or fatigued. People who are extremely sensitive can have significant eyelid swelling, a flare up of eczema, or wheezing from it. In short: misery!

While every community’s pollen season varies a bit, it takes several weeks for a particular pollen to blow through once it arrives. So my town, unfortunately, will be enduring this “yellow haze” for a couple more weeks.

Here are some things you can do if you or your child has an oak pollen allergy (or any other seasonal pollen issue):


  1. Stay indoors and keep your windows closed! If your school-aged child suffers significantly from seasonal allergies, get a note from her doctor to excuse her from recess or other outdoor activities.
  2. Clean yourself and your pet after being outside. The pollen will come right in with you on your shoes, clothes, and in your hair. And, your dog will be covered in it-especially if he likes to roll around in the grass.
  3. Try an over the counter antihistamine for relief. There are various products on the market (examples of brand names: Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra). I usually recommend the non-sedating antihistamines (i.e. Claritin, Zyrtec) to my patients because they won’t make a child sleepy or zoned out and only need to be dosed once a day.
  4. Get a prescription. If the over the counter stuff isn’t providing enough relief, there are a variety of other medications your child’s doctor can prescribe. These include eye drops (if your child is that miserable, he will probably let you put them in), nose sprays, and other medications taken by mouth.


Happy Spring!

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