If you've become a victim of marathon sneezing fits, you may be reacting to high pollen counts in New Tampa.
According to The Weather Channel, pollen count in the area are forecasted to be "high" today and tomorrow, Feb. 25-26, and "very high" starting Wednesday, Feb. 27.
According to Pollen.com, allergy levels are measured on a scale of 0 to 12, with 9.7 to 12 considered a "high" level. The projected levels for Thurday and Friday in the New Tampa area is 9.7.
The symtoms include sneezing, watery eyes, an itchy throat and a runny nose.
Common Florida Pollen Producers
The usual suspects are a variety of Florida trees that flower from December through February, including box elder, ash-leaf maple, Carolina ash, red mulberry and white mulberry, which can cause severe allergies, although The Weather Channel says cypress and pine are likely culprits as well.
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American elm, American hornbeam, punktree and red maple can be equally irritating to allergy sufferers, according to Pollen.com.
So, what can you do other than sequestering yourself in your bedroom while blasting your HEPA air cleaner?
- Keep your windows and outside doors closed as much as possible.
- Use air-conditioning to cool your home. Avoid using window and attic fans during pollen season.
- Keep your car windows rolled up when driving; use air-conditioning.
- Consider vacationing to a place where pollen is low, such as the beach.
- Check pollen counts before planning outdoor activities. Avoid being outdoors in the early morning when pollen is most prevalent.
- If you have to be outdoors, wear sunglasses to minimize pollen in your eyes. Remove your clothing when you come indoors; shower and wash your hair.
- Dry clothing and bedding in the dryer; do not hang outdoors to dry.
- Keep pets that spend time outdoors out of your bedroom because they can bring in pollen on their fur.
- Don't rake leaves during pollen season.
- Have someone else mow your grass, if possible. If you must mow your lawn, wear a mask.
- When landscaping your yard, choose trees that do not aggravate allergies and ground covers that don't produce much pollen. Some good choices include crape myrtle, dogwood, palm, pear, redwood and redbud trees, and Irish moss, bunch and dichondra.
If efforts to avoid pollen are not enough to relieve your pollen allergy symptoms, you may need medication, according to WebMD.com.
Nasal corticosteroids: These are inflammatory medications sprayed directly into the nose to relieve nasal congestion and other symptoms. They include: Beconase, Flonase, Nasacort, Nasonex, Omnaris, Rhinocort, Veramyst, Zetonna and Nasalide.
Antihistamines. These drugs counteract the action of histamine, a substance released in the body during an allergic reaction. They are available over the counter or by prescription. Some are taken by mouth; some are sold as nasal sprays. They include Allegra, Benadryl, Chlor-Trimeton, Claritin and Zyrtec.
Prescription antihistamines include Clarinex, and Astelin and Patanase, both nasal sprays that are approved to treat allergy symptoms.
Dymista is a prescription nasal spray that combines an antihistamine and a steroid.
Decongestants: Like antihistamines, these drugs are available by prescription and over the counter, and come in oral and nasal spray forms. Sometimes, they are used along with antihistamines. Some products contain both an antihistamine and decongestant. For example, Allegra-D, Claritin-D and Zyrtec-D contain an antihistamine and the decongestant pseudoephedrine.
Others: Other medication options include a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory nasal spray called NasalCrom, available without a prescription, and the prescription drug Singulair, which works by blocking substances called leukotreines.
If you are vulnerable to pollen allergies, be sure to sign up for alerts at Pollen.com.
Looking for doctors who treat allergies in New Tampa? Here's a list from the New Tampa Patch Directory: