Experts offer tips to manage allergies during pollen season

East Texas pollen has made its annual return, and some say it’s a little early this year.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 2:25 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2023 at 6:09 PM CST

GREGG COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - East Texas pollen has made its annual return, and some say it’s a little early this year.

Gregg County Health Authority Dr. Lewis Brown said the arrival of spring varies from year to year.

“This seems to be kind of an early season. We’re about a week or two more, having more allergy problems than usual,” Brown said.

The pollen is already yellowing East Texas vehicles. Brown said that it causes “A lot of sinus infections, causes bronchial infections. Just the misery of people being allergic to pollen gives them itchy, watery eyes.”

He said there can be more cold-like symptoms, and pollen in the lungs causes problems.

“You can’t drain your lungs very well. Then you get stagnant fluid, and it can get infected,” Brown said.

Gregg County AG Extension Agent Shaniqua Davis knows all about the origins of pollen.

“Most of the pollen right now that we’re seeing is coming from the blooms of the trees,” Davis said. “So, their catkins is the little tassels that you see, and a lot of the oak trees are starting to leaf out, bloom out.”

She said it’s easier to see pine pollen because it’s more concentrated.

“It’s more spread out on an oak tree just because the canopy is larger and more spread out,” Davis said.

Brown said oak pollen is generally harder on people with allergies.

“Pine pollen doesn’t cause near the problem that the other pollens do because it’s just so physically large,” Brown said.

As far as how long it will last; “I would say probably a month or so just because the different trees are going to come out of dormancy at different times. So, we’re going to see those different stages,” Davis said.

So according to Brown and Davis we are only in stage one, meaning there’s more to come. Brown said wearing a tight fitting mask if you’re doing yardwork might help, but allergy medicines may be your best defense.

Staying indoors as much as possible can also help, according to Brown, as can air purifiers and a better HVAC filter. But he adds that can put a bigger strain on your air conditioner.