March 1, 2016

Get prepared for tree pollen allergy season


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


In the mid-South, tree 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 May.

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

“I always think of managing allergies in three ways,” says Jeffrey A. Culp, M.D., of the Vanderbilt Asthma, Sinus and Allergy Program. “There’s avoidance, medications and allergy shots.”

Mind your meds

If you’ve been on hiatus from your antihistamine over the winter, start taking it at the first sign of symptoms, Culp 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,” Culp says. “Our hair is a magnet for pollen.” Sunglasses will shield your eyes. After spending time outside, change clothes when possible.


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

Do the wash

Wash bedding frequently to remove pollen that makes it inside. Avoid hanging clothes 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.

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, Culp adds.

Suffering from never-ending sniffles? Make an appointment at the Vanderbilt Asthma, Sinus and Allergy Program.