If you are an allergy sufferer you know it is the time to reach for tissues and sneeze! The pollen levels produced by prolific allergen producers such as trees and grass pollens are hitting you at the same time. We also know that due to global warming and climate changes, the pollen season is lasting longer, and meaning more time for pollens to make their way into your eyes and nose.
We had a heavy period of precipitation in the form of rain in so many areas in the U.S. (as well as flooding) that the trees and plants are primed and ready for a "pollen surge." The sudden change to warm and hot weather recently has also given the allergy producing trees and plants a boost as well.
So what can a seasonal allergy sufferer do?
Well for one thing, stay tuned for local pollen counts (assuming you have a confirmed diagnosis of seasonal allergies and know what you are actually allergic to) so you can plan your outdoor activities accordingly. Check out the National Allergy Bureau with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at
So what causes pollen levels to go higher and higher?
First, warm, hot, cloudless, dry and windy days can really kick of pollen counts. Many allergy producing plants can get pollens into the air between 10 am and 4 pm. Conversely, pollen counts go down when you have a cloudy, windless, rainy or drizzly type day as the pollen falls to the ground. Pollens can actually travel several hundred miles in the air. The pollen count also will tell you which are the most common pollens present in your neighborhood. If you are pollen sensitive, the higher the count the more likely you will suffer from a seasonal allergen.
Here are some other suggestions in coping with itchiness of the eyes, nose and throat and reducing seasonal allergy misery: * Reduce certain fruits, vegetables and nuts, which can aggravate springtime seasonal allergies (examples include raw carrot, apple, pears, almonds, hazelnut (even in coffee flavored drinks) * Stay clear of your allergy triggers. Consider a pollen mask for gardening or mowing the lawn if your symptoms are worsening. * Don't wait too long before taking your allergy medications. Daily medications are the way to go if you are having persistant eye and nasal allergy symptoms. * Eyelid washes (tear-free baby shampoo) as well as saline nasal sprays help remove and dilute out the pollens that have accumulated during the day. * Shampoo your hair and change your clothing when returning home before entering the bedroom areas to prevent further pollen transfer. You'll awake feeling refreshed and reduce your risk of a morning allergy attack. * Be a movie star! Wear big sunglasses to reduce pollen entering the eyes, especially on windy days.
Plan ahead if you are going to be outdoors for a prolonged period or perhaps consider indoor activities on very high pollen days.
Remember, get tested for specific seasonal allergies and then you will be "in the know". With an "allergy survival plan" and a little preparation such as having prescribed allergy medications on hand, or even before symptoms begin, you can enjoy the great outdoors safely this season!
Here are some Web sites to help you become informed:
Dr. Clifford W. Bassett is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Long Island College Hospital and on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine. He is the current vice chair for public education committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. No information in this blog is intended as medical advice to any reader or intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.