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Pollen’s callin’: Help for allergies in NC

Spring has sprung – and there’s pollen everywhere. 

That’s great news for tissue manufacturers, but terrible for people like me, whose sinuses and eyes swell in pollen’s presence. 

North Carolina, especially the Piedmont region, has some of the highest pollen levels in the nation. In fact, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ranks Raleigh ninth on its list of the “Top 10 most challenging places to live with seasonal allergies.” 

I believe it. I’ll never forget leaving a meeting in April 2019 at one of the buildings on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) campus in Durham to walk into a massive pollen cloud that swallowed the city. A photo of the pollen cloud made state and national news! 

The pollen problem

Pollen allergies affect about 40% of the US population, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. And its symptoms can be even worse for people with respiratory health issues, such as asthma.  

If pollen isn’t your pal, a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America says that pollen seasons in North America are getting worse. And data from the US Global Change Research Program shows a trend since 1984 of spring starting sooner

But you don’t need to lock yourself indoors or shop for a military-grade face mask for pollen protection. Blue Cross NC can connect you to care to help manage severe allergies. 

Finding care

If you are a Blue Cross NC member, your plan may have benefits to help you tame your allergies.

Check your Benefit Booklet in Blue Connect to see what services are available to you and use the Find Care tool to find an allergist in your area. You can also schedule a virtual visit with a provider when your allergies are acting up. 

If your plan has a health savings account (HSA), you may be able to use it to pay for over-the-counter or prescription medicine. 

“Reclaim your time outside this spring before the summer humidity kicks in,” says Dr. Larry Wu, a medical director at Blue Cross NC. “If you need help, use the chat or secure message features in Blue Connect. When it comes to health, our team is here for all.” 

Reduce your exposure to allergy triggers

To reduce your exposure to the things that trigger your allergy signs and symptoms (allergens):

  • Stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
  • Avoid lawn mowing, weed pulling and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.
  • Remove clothes you've worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
  • Don't hang laundry outside — pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
  • Wear a face mask if you do outside chores.

Source: Mayo Clinic

authors photo

Marc DeRoberts

Marc DeRoberts

Blog Managing Editor

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