Your Pollen Survival Guide
Pollen and allergies don't mix.
Second, Stay Indoors When Pollen Counts Are High
When pollen counts are high, shut the windows and use the air conditioner, suggests Leftwich.
"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."
Third, Plan Outdoor Time Wisely
It's best to avoid the outdoors during high pollen counts, but that's not always practical.
"Most plants pollinate from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., says Miguel P. Wolbert, MD, an allergist in Evansville, Ind. Wolbert is certified in pollen counting for the National Allergy Bureau. "If you are outside then, going for a jog, you pick up the pollen on your hair, face, and clothes," he says.
Windy days can be worse than calm days. "Windy days stir the pollen around," he says.
If a dog is jogging with you, he's a pollen-carrier, too, Wolbert says. "Often people blame the dog for an allergy, and it might be the pollen on the pet."
When possible, avoid early morning outings with the dog on high pollen days, especially if it's windy.
Fourth, Protect Yourself From Pollen When You Go Outdoors
"When people do have to be outside at a high pollen time, wearing a mask is a good filter," says Leftwich. He suggests getting a painter's mask at your local hardware store or home improvement center.
"If you have bad pollen allergies and you are the one who has to do the yard work, wearing a mask is a good idea," he says. They don't look fashionable, he admits, but reminds his patients: "It's not a social occasion."
When you're outside, minimize your exposure to pollutants and other allergens as well, suggests Wolbert. If you go jogging later in the day when pollen tends to die down, pick a residential street instead of a thoroughfare to avoid car exhaust.
Also, adds Leftwich: "Take your allergy medicines before you go outside. People wait until they are miserable and then take it. For some reason they think [an allergy attack] is not going to happen this time."