COVINGTON -- Monday was a record day for pollen in Georgia.
The pollen count was 8,164 on Monday, the highest ever recorded in metro Atlanta, according to the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic. The previous record of 6,013 was set on April 12, 1999.
"I think it's the perfect storm of having a very mild winter with a decent amount of rainfall and then the warm temperatures persisting. Once we start to get a lot of pollen going, it's going to keep coming like crazy," said Dr. Kevin Schaffer with Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic. "I suspect it will be extremely high for the next week or so. Anything above 500 we consider to be the extremely high range."
Grass and weed season has yet to even start, so more pollen is in store in the coming weeks, Schaffer said.
Oak, pine, mulberry, sycamore, sweetgum and birch trees are the primary pollen sources right now. Tree pollen is extremely high, while grass and weed pollen is low, according to Atlanta Allergy and Asthma.
Most of the yellow pollen blanketing cars and sidewalks is pine pollen, which does not produce a large allergic response -- it's the pollen that is invisible that causes the most problems, according Atlanta Allergy and Asthma.
With no rain in the immediate forecast, the pollen count will remain high throughout the week. Here are tips for surviving high pollen days:
-- Stay indoors as much as possible. "(The pollen count) is so high there's an irritant effect from all the particulates independent from the allergic reaction so many of us also get," Schaffer said. "When you come inside, take a shower and wash your hair."
-- Keep your car and house windows closed. Run the air conditioning instead. The air conditioning will work to filter the pollen that does make it into the house.
-- Shower before going to bed. Pollen can get in your hair and on your skin, so a shower before bed will help keep you from breathing in pollen all night.
-- Wash off indoor pets' paws and wipe down their fur with a damp cloth or towel if they've been outdoors. Pets can easily track pollen into your home, onto furniture and onto your beds.
-- Avoid outdoor activities until early evening. Pollen counts tend to be highest in the morning.
-- See your allergist for a proper diagnosis of exactly what's triggering your symptoms and a treatment plan specifically targeting those allergens. Allergy symptoms typically include nasal congestion, sneezing and nasal drainage. Sometimes coughing and other problems, such as sinusitis, can result from allergies as well.
Antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Claritin and Allegra are recommended for runny nose, while a decongestant works best for stuffy nose, Schaffer said. Saline sprays can also help. If none of those over-the-counter treatments work, "It's time to call your doctor."
"We think it's critical if you're not getting good enough relief to see somebody trained to evaluate this and really help figure out what's causing the problem," Schaffer said, adding that there's no need to go untreated. "What we see is the tip of the iceberg as allergists. Most people are out there silently suffering. Even your primary care doctor can prescribe something that you can't get over-the-counter."