Tree pollen can make some people absolutely miserable.

Joy Landry
Joy Landry

That could explain why the most popular page on the website for the Southwest Ohio Air Quality Agency in Cincinnati remains the pollen and mold one, says Joy Landry, public relations specialist. “Allergy sufferers bookmark it.”

When a person suffers from an allergic reaction to specific pollen, their body is responding to an irritant, she adds. “Even within the same family, the reaction to different pollens can be completely opposite.”

For instance, her mother endures many symptoms during ragweed season. But Landry and her siblings seem impervious to it. Plus, some people can outgrow allergies while others develop them later in life.

Allergy Symptoms

Symptoms to allergies run the gamut from running nose to sneezing, itchy nose, watery eyes and sometimes sinus congestion. “It might feel like you have a cold. But you don’t get aches and pains like you do with the flu or a cold,” she states.

The agency counts and reports Cincinnati pollen and mold particles during allergy season, from February through November. In addition to the information on its website, a phone hotline at 513-946-7753 offers the same information.

The air quality agency collects the pollen counts from the previous 24 hours. The day after the pollen counts are counted is usually when people begin to show signs of their allergy because they had been exposed to the past day, Landry says. If you had been outside during the previous day, especially if it was windy and blowing pollen all around, you might start experiencing symptoms.

“People may be reacting to pollen from different trees. We will encourage people to track their symptoms and check with what we are posting on our website,” she adds. “See if the relevant tree pollen that day affected you and try to see a pattern with how you are feeling.”

The agency counts pollen levels as grains per cubic meter of air.
Here is the breakdown:
Low: 0-20 grains.
Moderate: 21-100 grains,
High: 101-1,000
Very high: Anything over 1,000

Check out these top pollen-making trees in Cincinnati which can cause the worst havoc on those with allergies:

Oak

Last April 23, the pollen count spiked 3,450 with oak representing 2,018 of that number. The highest pollen count for oak usually is the third week of April to the second week in May. It’s our springtime and things are growing,” Landry says. “It’s just part of spring and a seasonal pollen spike, and that’s when allergy sufferers start to sneeze and be miserable.” When Landry looked through the records, the five to eight days surrounding April 23, Oak definitely had the highest count of pollen collected.

Cedar/Juniper

The pollen counts from these trees can spike from early to mid-March. In 2019, the highest count was on March 14 with 1,189. The USA National Phenology Network says that individual mountain cedar trees can release up to 500 billion pollen grains a year. 

Mulberry

In 2019, this fruit tree pushed the pollen count to 810 one day. According to Pollen.com, mulberry trees bear fruit that can be beneficial to people.  The plant also had been popularized in a children’s nursery rhyme with a line, “Here we go ’round the mulberry bush.” 

But it’s not child’s play when the pollen from this tree or grouping of shrubs can cause great havoc on someone that is allergic to its pollen.

Elm

Topping Cincinnati’s and much of the Midwest for trees for producing high amounts of pollen include the elm tree, according to AllergicLiving.com.  Elms can release pollen two different times — as early as January in some places and not until April in others. The weather and when things begin to warm up will have a lot to do with when the pollen begins, Landry says.

“On a breezy, spring day in Cincinnati, you can literally see a yellow dusting on your car. Many times you have to turn on your windshield wipers and cleaner to clear it away to see,” Landry says.

The yellow pollen can be a combination of elm, maple, oak and sycamore trees.

“We have a pretty wide distribution of trees across the area. And many people have giant oak trees in their front yard,” she explains. “In fact, our building has a giant oak tree in the front yard. The pollen blows all over the place.”

Some people might not be affected by pollen. Some begin feeling the agony later in August and September when temperatures heat up along with the humidity. Mold builds up in the air when things are decaying, she comments.

“We encourage people if they are having a problem to consult their doctor,” she adds.

To Ease Pollen Woes

Otherwise, follow these tips to ease your pollen suffering:

  • Close your windows —  even on a beautiful day — and run your air conditioner when pollen counts are high.
  • Pollen is worst in the morning because it clings to the early dew on the leaves. So, do your outside work later in the day.
  • If you choose to mow the lawn, take a shower before going to bed instead of lying in bed with pollen all over you.
  • Limit your exposure to pollen.
  • Products such as Benadryl can help with symptoms.