Spring is in the air and so are the allergens. Over the next few months grasses, trees and weeds will release huge quantities of pollen into the air as part of their reproductive cycle. For those suffering from allergic asthma or seasonal allergies it is a time when symptoms worsen, eyes water and noses run.
The most common advice given to those allergic to pollen is to remain indoors when pollen release occurs. However this happens at different times for different plants. On warm and sunny days most grasses release pollen from early morning onwards. On damp mornings the release will be delayed until the ground moisture evaporates. Some species of grass release their pollen in the afternoon, so if you are allergic to several types you may not get a window of avoidance at any time of day.
Even with an allergy to only one type of pollen, it can affect you despite your efforts to avoid the time and area where pollen release occurs. As the day draws to a close cooling pollen-carrying air falls towards the ground. This can lead to sufferers experiencing problems during the night. Wind-blown pollen can travel great distances. Ragweed can spread so far that it has even been detected 400 miles out to sea.
If you can identify the pollen that triggers your symptoms you can try to plan your day accordingly. You can get a clue from the time of year that you experience problems. Tree pollen is usually released in the spring, grass pollen in late spring and early summer, and weed pollens in late summer into autumn. A doctor can organise tests to further narrow down the culprit. Having identified the offending pollen try to remain indoors when it is being released.
Try to keep track of the pollen count in your area. Remember the pollen count is usually taken the day before it is broadcast. Rain or cool weather can reduce the count. Hot weather or short thunderstorms can increase it. Plants tend to retain their pollen on cloudy days, so expect a higher than average release on the next sunny day.
You can use over the counter (OTC) medication to relieve symptoms if it does not interfere with other medications. Consult your doctor to make sure there will be no adverse affects.
Although pollen is probably the most difficult allergen to avoid there are steps you can take to minimize your exposure.
1. If possible only work outside at times when the pollen count is low. The mornings of cooler, less sunny days are best.
2. Introduce more insect-pollinated plants (usually the more attractive, colorful ones) into your garden, as their heavier pollen is less likely to become airborne. If you can identify the plant that affects you, exclude that plant from your garden. If grass pollen affects you but do not want to lose your lawn, get someone else to keep the grass short.
3. Keep windows shut tight at times of pollen release, during high pollen counts, and in the early hours of the night when airborne pollen returns to ground level.
4. Dry all washing indoors to prevent pollen gathering on clothes and bedding. Ideally dry clothes in a tumble-dryer.
5. If you spend a prolonged period outside when the pollen count is high, you should ideally take a shower and wash your hair when you get in, especially if it is thick or long. At least try to rinse your hair to get rid of any pollen.
6. Keep a set of clothes that you only wear indoors. Clothes worn outside could be full of pollen. Avoid taking your outdoor clothes into the bedroom.
Perhaps the most effective solution is to leave the area. If circumstances permit, move nearer the equator for a while. The plants that affect you will have finished pollinating. Alternatively move to a high mountainous area or a windy seacoast.
By David Kane
All rights reserved. Any reproducing of this article must have the author name and all the links intact.