Spring Pollen Can Herald Misery Season

A few insights into avoiding allergies that bloom like flowers

SUNDAY, March 7, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- If you're allergic to pollen, you'd better start praying for rain.

The spring allergy season is just around the corner, and 35 million allergy sufferers in the United States are getting out their handkerchiefs in preparation.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), trees start pollinating as early as January in the south and as early as March in the northern states. That pollen is responsible for much allergy misery. Grasses don't start to pollinate until about May.

Spring rains literally wash the pollen and other allergens out of the air, so you can breathe easier -- at least for a while.

You can't control the weather, but you can control what you do. The AAAAI has these tips for reducing your misery level this allergy season:

  • Use an air conditioner and a dehumidifier to keep the air inside your home clean, cool and dry.
  • If you like flowers, opt for large, waxy flowers such as lilies and tulips. Their pollen is too heavy and sticky to enter the air and cause an allergic reaction.
  • Try to stay indoors, especially between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. when pollen counts are highest, and on windy days.
  • Keep the windows in your home and your car closed.
  • Avoid mowing and raking.
  • If you've been outside, remove your shoes outside so you don't track pollen indoors. Change your clothes as soon as possible to avoid continued contact with accumulated pollen.
  • To remove pollen from your skin and hair, shower after spending extended periods of time outdoors.
  • Don't hang clothing or sheets outside to dry. They will collect pollen and mold.

More information

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has a Q & A on allergies.

SOURCE: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
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