In Greater Cleveland during the summer, it is not uncommon to check the weather forecast on your phone and see an alert that is not related to a severe thunderstorm or a heat advisory, but to something else—high pollen counts. What is commonly misdiagnosed as a “summer cold” can often be allergies. Taking a walk in the Chagrin River park or spending a day at the Metroparks Zoo can be torture if you have a reaction to the high pollen. For allergy sufferers, these alerts can be bad news, and here’s why.
Pollen is a very fine, powder-like substance, yellow in color, made of the tiny grains discharged from a flower during cross-pollination. Many people suffer from what is called hay fever, an allergy to pollen when it is transported by wind. As pollen moves through the air, it can be easily inhaled through your nose and mouth, which then triggers allergy symptoms. During the summer, the most common culprit causing pollen allergies is a plant known as ragweed.
What does this mean for allergy sufferers?
If you are affected by airborne allergens, like pollen, your eyes may swell and become very watery, itchy and red. For those who are reliant on contacts, dealing with itchy, swollen eyes may make wearing contacts very uncomfortable or even impossible.
When you experience these symptoms during times of high pollen counts in Cleveland, we recommend taking the following steps to find some relief:
- Avoid rubbing your eyes. While it might be tempting to rub your itchy eyes, resist the temptation. Remember that your hands carry many germs, which can lead to an eye infection like conjunctivitis.
- Keep your hands and face clean. Washing your face and hands often can help prevent the spread of airborne allergens.
- Apply a cold towel or eye pillow. You may find some relief to the swelling and itchiness by applying a cool towel or eye pillow across your eyes while you rest.
- Plan accordingly. When you see alerts for high pollen counts in the forecast, consider planning a day of indoor activities.
- Talk to your eye doctor. Your doctor can recommend antihistamine eye drops or other oral medications that can reduce the symptoms of hay fever and other allergies.
The LVC team is also here as a resource. Contact us if you have any questions.