Allergies In Spring And Summer
During warm weather, most everyone is drawn outside where plants, grasses and trees are producing and dispatching their pollen. Inevitably, you will inhale pollen, wear it on your clothes and carry it to your face on your hands. Nevertheless, there are things you can do to minimize the effects of certain airborne allergens.
- It may be helpful for you to monitor your region’s pollen and spore counts, depending upon your specific allergy and your proximity to the place counts are monitored. Local radio and television stations often broadcast daily pollen counts for your area. Local newspapers sometimes list pollen counts as well. Pollen and spore counts are usually reported with a delay of up to two days, and can vary considerably from one local area to another, particularly for certain heavy pollens that settle quickly out of the air without dispersing throughout a large region. If you have an allergy to a lightweight pollen, such as ragweed pollen, pollen counts may be more helpful at predicting your symptoms.
- Take note of the weather. Pollen counts are usually lower on days that are rainy, cloudy or still, and higher on days that are sunny or windy. Immediately before a rain, gusts of wind usually stir up pollen. During a rain and for an hour or two afterwards, pollen counts are much lower. If you are allergic to mold spores, you may have reactions right after a rainstorm and at night, since that's when spore counts are highest.
- Know your seasons. Pollens from trees is in the air from late winter to early spring, pollens from grasses are present from late spring to early summer, mold spores are airborne from late summer through fall, and pollens from weeds (including ragweed, for locations East of the Rocky Mountains) are present in the fall. By noting which allergens are likely to be at high levels, you should be able to develop a greater understanding of your particular allergy pattern.
- Limit outdoor activities in the morning, when pollen counts are at their highest. (Ragweed pollen tends to peak around noon.) In general, stay indoors if you can between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. with windows closed during peak season.
- Take a shower or wash your hair before going to bed to remove pollen that may have accumulated during the day. Change your clothes if you've been outside for an extended period of time.
- Avoid drying clothes and linens outside where they can collect pollen and molds that can trigger allergies later. Instead, use a clothes dryer.
- Have someone else tend to the activities that stir up pollens and molds — mowing the lawn, for example, or cleaning out gutters. If you choose to garden or engage in other outdoor activities, wear a pollen mask or consider taking an antihistamine 30 minutes before going outdoors. However, some antihistamines can make you sleepy and should not be used when operating heavy machinery.
- Learn which plants, grasses and trees plants are less prone to trigger allergies. For example, showier plants that are pollinated by insects have pollen grains that are larger and therefore less likely to remain airborne for you to inhale. Plants that have smaller pollen grains and rely on the wind for pollination are more likely to cause allergies through inhalation. Talk to people at your local garden center or conservation district to earn which plants and trees tend to be less problematic.
- Use plastic sheets instead of straw to hamper pollinating weeds and mold growth in flower and shrub beds.
- Do a thorough spring cleaning — or, better still, have someone else clean windows, book shelves and air conditioning vents where dust, mold, and tree pollen may have collected over the winter.