Saturday's pollen count was highest we've felt so far this year

ATLANTA — Saturday's pollen count was the highest we've felt so far, this year -- 3,387!

Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Katie Walls said tree pollen is affecting thousands of us right now. Thursday night's rainfall, followed by sunshine and warm temperatures, are ingredients for sniffling and sneezing this weekend.

Nasal congestion, itchy and watery eyes, post-nasal drainage, facial pressure, ear fullness are all very common.

[READ: Allergy experts say it's time to get your medicine for pollen season]

In the midst of these high and extremely high pollen counts, Dr. Karen Hoffmann with Piedmont Ear, Nose, Throat and Related Allergy said to take allergy medication before going outside, but what you take depends on your symptoms.

"If you have a lot of nasal congestion, facial pressure, then some of the OTC nasal steroids can be helpful," Hoffmann said. "If you have the runny, drippy, sneezy, itchy, watery eyes some of the oral antihistamines can be helpful."

Hoffmann told Walls anyone who still suffers after exhausting over-the-counter medication should see a doctor. That's exactly what Betty Rickicki did when her symptoms worsened.


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"If you're still suffering and still having problems despite everything you've tried over the counter it's really important to see a physician that can help you manage that," Hoffmann said. "You may benefit from allergy testing and possibly immunotherapy to decrease the severity of the symptoms."

Channel 2's Wendy Halloran spoke with allergist Dr. Stanley Fineman on Saturday. He said things are going to get worse before they get better.

“Some of the pollen are a little more potent than they have been in the last 10 to 20 years,” Fineman said.

Children have a higher incidence of allergies than even adults do, Fineman said.

[Download the free Severe Weather Team 2 app to check pollen levels in your area]

“They sometimes have trouble concentrating in school, so their school performance may not be optimal because they don’t feel well,” Fineman told Halloran.

Fineman said it’s important to get tested to find out what triggers your allergies. That, he said, leads to a correct diagnosis and a good treatment plan.

"We can use allergy immuno-therapy like allergy shots, one of the most effective ways, having people be able to build a tolerance to the things that they’re allergic to," Fineman said.

With tree pollen now in the high and extremely high ranges regularly, doctors say to limit time outdoors and keep what's outside from coming in.

That means showering, changing clothes immediately, and rinsing the nose with a little nasal saline to get the allergens out.

Tree pollen tends to stay in the high and extremely high range through April.

You can check the pollen count daily here.