By Melynda Sides, community web producer
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Pollen: it's tiny, invasive and annoying to everyone who suffers from seasonal allergies. This time of year the pollen levels are at an extreme level, causing itchy eyes, scratchy throats, sneezing and plenty of other aggravating symptoms related to allergies.
We took an informal poll both on our Facebook page and in our newsroom asking people what they do when their allergies flare up in the spring. The results are as varied as the common symptoms.
On Facebook, solutions ranged from "Go straight to the Dr." to over-the-counter meds and more home-grown remedies. Facebook fan Lulu Dunc wrote, "1 tbs of apple cider vinegar in 8 oz water daily. does not stop all but helps."
A couple people said they eat local honey, which can help prevent allergies as long as the honey is produced from bees nearby.
Steven Warren, a Facebook fan who identified himself as a former bee keeper, gave his input about the honey remedy: "Honey from your local area works better than anything but it must be raw natural honey that has not been processed," he wrote.
Members of the FOX6 staff are in no way immune to the invisible irritants clogging throats and nasal passageways.
Angie Bierley, our 9 p.m. producer, says the pollen has been so bad this week, she's in the process of switching out her over-the-counter meds in an attempt to relieve her itchy eyes and tickly ears.
Reporters Emily Luxen and Sherea Harris both said they never had problems with allergies until moving to Alabama. Their solutions?
"Suffer. That's all you can do," Luxen said. While filming a story about springtime allergies, she said she learned that this year's pollen season is an especially bad one. (Click here to watch that video.)
Harris sometimes takes prescription medicine for allergy-related headaches, other times she uses a remedy suggested by her doctor: breathing moisture in through a warm washcloth.
Anchor Steve Crocker says he has to clear his throat of drainage more often during the allergy season, which can be a tricky thing to time when you're on live television.
"I've been sneezing my head off," said Janet Hall. Her remedy? A nasal spray, and when that doesn't work, she says she takes an antihistamine to stave off the sniffles.
Our news director James Finch offered his succinct advice on how he fights the ever-present allergens: "Avoid the outdoors."
There's a consensus throughout our newsroom and online: allergies are no fun but there are a few things you can do to help. In the videos above, J-P Dice explains what kind of pollen is causing the worst reactions among people in our part of the state. He also offers a few tips on how to keep your airways clear of the often-invisible sources of irritation.
Thomas O'Neil, who wrote "sneeze a lot pray for rain" on our Facebook page as his solution for coping with allergies, isn't far from the truth. Our best hope for relief from the sneezing, coughing and itching will likely be the upcoming rainfall, which should help clean up the atmosphere and let us all breathe a little easier for a few days.