Seasonal allergic rhinitis often referred to as ‘hay fever,” affects more than 35 million people in the U.S. These seasonal allergies are caused by allergens. Airborne pollens and mold spores are outdoor allergens that commonly trigger symptoms during the spring and fall. Allergy testing is required to specifically diagnose these allergens.
Pollens are the tiny, egg-shaped male cells of flowering plants. These microscopic, powdery granules are necessary for plant fertilization. Pollens from plants with bright flowers, such as roses, usually do not trigger allergies because bees and other insects carry these from plant to plant. On the other hand, many trees, grasses and low-growing weeds have small, light, dry pollens that are dissemi¬nated by winds. These are the pollens that trigger allergy symptoms.
Each plant has a period of pollination; however weather conditions can affect the amount of pollen in the air at any given time. Generally, in southern California the pollen season lasts from mid January through October. Trees pollinate earliest, from late January through mid April. Grasses follow next in the cycle, beginning pollination in mid-April and continuing until August. Weeds usually pollinate in late summer and early fall.
Weather can influence the symptoms, which are often minimal on rainy, cloudy or windless day, because pollen does not move about during these conditions. Hot, dry and windy weather disperse more pollen & mold causing increased symptoms.
If you are allergic to plants in your area, you may believe that moving to another area of the country with different plants will help your symptoms. However many pollens especially grasses, and molds are common to most plant Zones in the United States. Many who move to a new region to escape their allergies find that they acquire allergies to new airborne allergens prevalent in their area within two to three years. Therefore, moving to another part of the country to escape allergies is often ultimately disappointing, and not recommended.
Pollen count measures the amount of airborne allergens present in the air. The National Allergy Bureau report pollens count and you can get your local count through 1-800-9-POLLEN.
Dos & Don’ts
- Do keep windows closed at night to prevent pollens or molds from drifting into your home. Instead, if needed, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools, and dries the air.
- Do minimize activity on dry windy days & early morning when pollen is usually emitted (between 5-10 am.)
- Do keep your car windows closed when traveling.
- Do shower and change clothes when coming in from outdoor activity.
- Do try to stay indoors on windy days and when the pollen count or humidity is high.
- Do take a vacation during the high pollen season to the beach or sea.
- DON’T take more medication than recom¬mended in an attempt to lessen your symptoms.
- DON’T mow lawns, rake leaves or be around freshly cut grass; stirs up pollens & molds.
- DON’T hang sheets or clothing out to dry. Pollens and molds may collect in them.