Houstonians feel effect as pollen count hits record highs

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- On Wednesday, ABC13 meteorologists said the pollen count was the highest they had ever seen it. By Thursday, those numbers were even worse.

People with allergies are in agony. They're looking for relief and the reason behind why things are so bad this season.

The numbers coming out from the Houston Health Department are breaking records. For the tree pollen count, anything over 1,500 is considered extremely heavy. Thursday's count was 12,477, which is the most pollen ever recorded in our air.

The sure signs of springtime in Houston are sunshine, blue skies, and yellow pollen piled up everywhere.

"I definitely felt it. I even talked to a couple of my friends, as well. They were having similar symptoms," said Kirby Chenkin, a cyclist and health influencer who spends a lot of time outdoors, who said he's never experienced allergies this intense.

"All of a sudden, I just started getting a ton of mucus and just drainage in my sinuses," he said.

Data from the city shows this is the worst documented allergy season, considering tree pollen that Houstonians have ever had to suffer through. Horticulturists with Texas A&M said what happened in February 2021 is part of the reason why.

The winter freeze put trees under so much stress that they're now producing more pollen as a survival mechanism. That, coupled with rainfall totals, is creating headaches for Houstonians.

"They may need to monitor going outside. For example, they may opt to stay indoors for part of the day and only go outside when the pollen count is a little bit lower," said Dr. Christine Le, who practices family medicine with Kelsey Seybold.

Le said over-the-counter allergy medicine will work for most people, as long as they take it consistently. She also recommended showering off to prevent bringing pollen from outside into your home.

Others people recommend you keep it moving until the count comes back down at the end of the spring allergy season in mid-April.

"I would just tell all Houstonians to keep pushing forward. We're strong. We're Houston strong. We've been through a big flood. We've been through a lot more than some allergies," Chenkin said.

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