February 26, 2021

Get prepared for tree and grass pollen allergy season


These tips will help allergy sufferers spring into tree season with ease.

In the mid-South, tree and grass pollen season will sneak up on you before you’ve stowed your winter coat. That’s because it starts as early as February and can last through August or even September.

To prepare, we’ve enlisted the help of an allergy specialist to determine what steps we can take to ease symptoms during this time.

“Only allergy immunotherapy shots will bring about long-term tolerance to grass and tree pollens, as well as other allergens, so it’s important to schedule an appointment with an allergy specialist,” said Kenneth S. Babe, M.D., who sees patients at the Vanderbilt Asthma, Sinus and Allergy Program locations in Gallatin and Lebanon, Tennessee. “And there are simple steps you can take to limit exposure to pollens that cause your symptoms.”

Mind your meds

Make sure to take medications as prescribed. If you’ve been on hiatus from your antihistamine over the winter, start taking it at the first sign of symptoms, Babe recommends. However, if you use a corticosteroid nasal spray, you’ll need to give that about a week to work.

Take cover

“Use a hat to keep pollen out of your hair,” Babe said. “Our hair is a magnet for pollen.” Sunglasses will shield your eyes. But when possible, also take a shower and change clothes after spending time outside.


Showering and washing hair before bed will help ease nighttime and early-morning symptoms. Babe also recommends rinsing nasal passages with a saline solution.

Reassign yard work

To avoid triggering your allergies, designate someone else to be responsible for raking leaves and mowing the lawn. Both of these things stir up pollen and mold.

Do the wash

Wash bedding frequently to remove pollen that makes it inside. Avoid hanging clothes or sheets on the line where they can get inundated with pollen. Using a dryer is best.

Pamper your pet

Give Fido more frequent baths and brushings because his fur will be loaded with the sneeze-inducing stuff. If you’re allergic to pollen, avoid letting your pets in bed with you.

Shut the windows

Warmer weather might make you want to throw open the windows at home or roll them down while driving. Opt for air conditioning instead, and make sure to change HVAC filters frequently to avoid circulating pollen through the house.

Be alert

Forecast apps can keep you informed about days that might bring on miserable symptoms. Stay inside when pollen counts are high. If you’re planning to exercise outdoors, do so in the afternoon or evening when pollen counts tend to be lower. If your symptoms are severe and long periods of exposure are unavailable, wear a pollen mask.

Start allergy shots

If you’re experiencing allergy symptoms, one option is to get tested and then receive ongoing allergy shots. While allergy shots won’t be effective for this season, they will offer a long-term solution, Babe said.

Allergies, asthma and sinus problems can produce similar symptoms, ranging from annoying to life-threatening. The Vanderbilt Asthma, Sinus and Allergy experts give you an accurate diagnosis and treatment tailored to you, your symptoms and your life. Vanderbilt Asthma, Sinus and Allergy has five locations in Middle Tennessee: Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Gallatin and Lebanon.

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