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.
Your home is your castle -- except when you’re allergic to it. A recent
nationwide survey found that over half of all Americans test positive for at
least some allergens, and many of these are indoor allergies such as dust,
mold, and pet dander.
How can you allergy-proof your home to make it a refuge, not a source of
sneezes? Take a tour of your house from room to room, find out where the
allergens are lurking, and get relief from indoor allergies.
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,
Second, Stay Indoors When Pollen Counts Are High
When pollen counts are high, shut the windows and use the air conditioner,
"The biggest problem pollen-sensitive patients have are the times when
the pollen is heaviest and outside temperatures are the nicest," he says.
"People are tempted to sleep with the windows open."
Big mistake, he tells them. "Normally with the windows shut and the air
conditioner on there is very little pollen in your house."