Spring is finally here and you can feel it in the air. Literally. From weeds to spores to grass and tree pollens, the warm weather is almost here, and so are the allergies. For the 35 million people who suffer from seasonal allergies — the sniffling, sneezing, and itchy eyes — are here for a while.
What causes seasonal allergies?
For the most part, seasonal allergies are caused by airborne pollens very fine powder released by trees, grasses and weeds as they pollinate and fertilize other plants of the same kind. Molds in outdoor air can also contribute to seasonal allergies.
Although there are warmer regions of the country where outdoor allergens can be present year-round, allergy season generally begins in late winter or early spring and runs through late summer or early fall, depending on a region’s particular climate.
Trees are generally the first to pollinate, in late winter and spring, although some varieties can pollinate later in the season, depending on the region. Trees tend to be followed by the pollination of various grasses in late spring and summer. Weeds can pollinate at different times of the growing season, though the notorious ragweed prevalent in many areas east of the Rockies pollinates in late summer and early fall.
For those mild sufferers who don’t require medication, here are some suggestions for helping you find some much-needed relief.
- Keep your home’s doors and windows closed. You can’t completely seal off your home from the outside, but keeping doors and windows closed can help prevent pollens and outdoor molds from entering. When the weather turns nice in the spring and you’re tempted to open windows to let in “fresh” air, it may be better to keep them closed and turn on your air conditioner.
- Limit outdoor activity, particularly in the morning. Avoid being outdoors especially to exercise when pollen counts are high, or on windy days when pollen and molds are being blown about. In general, pollen counts are highest in the morning, usually from about 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.
- When traveling by car, keep the windows up. Closing your car windows helps keep out pollens, dust and mold.
- Allergens such as pollen tend to stick to fabrics, which means you can deposit allergens from your clothes on your furniture, on your pillow, and on the people around you. All of a sudden the safe haven of your home is as allergy-ridden as the outdoors. Wash your bedding, your pajamas, and your clothes as often as possible to rid them of troublesome allergens during the spring season. Also take a shower and change clothes when you’ve been in pollinated areas outdoors.
The trick to enjoying a pleasant spring day outdoors is not to treat your allergy symptoms, but to prevent them before they kick in. Follow these steps and enjoy the beginning of spring!