Springtime brings not just deliciously longer days, warmer weather, balmy
breezes and blooming flowers. For people with allergies, it means the return of
pollen. Pollen and allergies don't mix.
There's not much you can do to avoid pollen altogether -- after all, it's
produced by grasses, trees, flowers and weeds -- but you can minimize the
misery. Here's your springtime pollen survival guide.
For lots of people, allergy treatment is reactive. You get stuffed up, your eyes water, and then you go to the medicine cabinet for relief. But many doctors say that we’ve got it the wrong way around. Instead, we should be taking the medicine before we have symptoms. Call it allergy pretreatment.
“We always tell people to start taking medicine before the allergy season begins,” says Jonathan A. Bernstein MD, an allergist and professor of clinical medicine at the University of Cincinnati. “People...
Be realistic. "Complete avoidance of pollen is impractical," says
Daniel Waggoner, MD, an allergist in Mystic, Conn., tells his patients. "In
Connecticut, spring brings tree pollens. Late spring and summer brings grass
pollens. Late summer and fall brings weed pollen."
"That in general holds true across the country," he says. However,
if you travel south, some types of pollen may linger year round, with the
But there's a lot you can do to minimize the fallout from pollen -- from
simple measures you can take around the house to seeing an allergist for
First, Know Your Pollen Count
Pollen is the invisible annoyance. The average pollen particle is smaller
than the width of an average human hair, according to the American Academy of
Allergy Asthma & Immunology.
But once pollen reaches your nose and throat, it can trigger an allergic
reaction if you are the sensitive type. And about 35 million Americans are
sensitive to pollen, according to National Institutes of Health estimates.
It's easy enough to check the pollen count in your locale through the
National Allergy Bureau, a section of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma
and Immunology, which maintains an online site for pollen counts.
Pollen counts calculate a given pollen in a specific amount of air during a
particular period, such as 24 hours, according to the Asthma and Allergy
Foundation of America.
Ask your allergist exactly what you are allergic to, and when that pollen
peaks, so you can be ready to take action before the pollen triggers bad
allergic reactions, says Russell B. Leftwich, MD, an allergist in Nashville,