TYLER (KYTX) - Spring is officially here, and even if you're not an allergy sufferer, you've probably noticed all the pollen that's been showing up on cars lately. Pollen creates a real mess on our cars and for the way we feel.
The stuff that leaves a green film is actually pine. Unfortunately for allergy sufferers, there's no shortage of that in East Texas, especially this time of year, but there are ways to get some relief this Spring.
"Are you having a lot of runny nose or not that much?"
"Yeah, a lot."
Dr. Paul Sharkey is an allergist with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler.
He says the tree pollen has him swamped with suffering patients.
"Because of all the pollen that comes out. And then, the weather change that occurs in Spring too, that bothers a lot of people with their allergies."
People like nine-year-old Griffin Gesik whose asthma and allergies get in the way of his sports activities.
"So far, I've played first, third, and left field." he says.
"There are a lot of over-the-counter medications you can use, like antihistamines that can be tried, but if they don't do the job, then it's often a good time to go and see your doctor."
Dr. Sharkey says prescribed pills, liquids, and allergy shots can provide some relief. He says nose sprays often work the best.
Luckily, tree pollens should clear out by May or June.
"Ragweed season is when school starts, so mid-August until it freezes." says Dr. Sharkey. "In East Texas, there is almost always something in the air that you can be allergic too because even the cedar and elm pollens- those are the Winter pollens."
Dexter Jones with UT Health Science Center at Tyler knows all about East Texas pollen. He's the one who collects it every day from this machine on top of the UT Health Science Center. He keeps track of what he finds under the microscope in charts.
"Each of those fills are actually counted and identified. How many trees..."
Examining all of this pollen every day is no small task.
"Now that it's Spring and it's the tree season," says Jones, "It takes right at a solid 2.5 hours to get it done."
Luckily, he has some help in case he ever gets stuck identifying them.
"I love to call the pine 'Mickey Mouse.' That is 'Mickey Mouse!'"
And, Mickey Mouse is the pine pollen that's dusting our cars green.
Since tree pollen is high right now and all over our cars, Dr. Sharkey says it's best to drive with your windows rolled up.
You can wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen, too.
Dr. Sharkey says washing your hair is also especially important for keeping allergies at bay. When you're outside during the day, the wind blows and gets pollen in your hair. Then at night, you rub the pollen all over your pillow and breathe it in while you're sleeping. That can make you feel very sick and stuffy in the morning, so wash your hair daily, especially if you're very allergic to pollen.