Pollen Count: What Does It Really Mean?

By Heather Legg

Over the past few years, local news and weather stations have been giving us a new statistics along with high temperatures and chance of rain, the pollen count. Some people probably pay no attention to it, while others plan their days by it. What does it really mean though? How do they determine the count? Is it really beneficial to know it?

According to www.pollen.com,

“the pollen count is a measurement of how much pollen exactly is in the air. It represents a combination of all the pollen or it can be a specific type of pollen, like ragweed. It is expressed in grains of pollen per cubic meter over a 24 hour period. The pollen is collected from specific spots and counted by scientists to determine the pollen counts.”

Though it sounds pretty simple, it is actually quite an intricate process.  So that is what it is, but what does that mean to allergy sufferers?

If the allergy count is high and you suffer from pollen allergies, it may be a good idea to try to stay indoors as much as you can. It’s best that you don’t exercise outside or have your windows open. If there is a low pollen count, your allergies won’t be as affected. The pollen can actually change dramatically day to day, depending on a variety of things, like wind and rain. The windier and drier the day, the more pollen is around and the more your allergies will be aggravated.

Www.weather.com has a section devoted to pollen and allergies. You can see how weather, like the above wind and rain, affect allergies. You can also check the pollen forecasts for your area and type of pollen (tree, grass, and weed) and it even gives you the most active pollens of those types. Another feature is a pollen map, where you can click on your state and find the most active (and annoying) types of pollen. I think the forecast is very beneficial in planning your days. When the count gets in the extreme range, it’s really a good idea for anyone, even those who don’t normally react to pollen, to try to stay inside.

You will probably begin to hear pollen forecasts on your local news as Spring makes its rounds across the country. Though the numbers have probably always been meaningful to you, now you can have a little background on them. Check them daily; it may help you out a bit. Here are a few other sites in addition to www.pollen.com and www.weather.com if you want even more information:

http://www.aaaai.org/nab/index.cfm?p=pollen
http://www.webmd.com/content/tools/1/calc_pollen_count.htm
http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=19&cont=264
http://allergies.about.com/od/allergies101/a/seasonalallergy.htm

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