Allergies to pollen and mold can make the outdoors seem off-limits, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
For people with allergies or asthma, the march of the seasons can seem like a pollen parade, starting when trees pollinate in the spring, followed by grasses and the release of mold spores in the summer, and ending with ragweed in the fall. These steps can help you enjoy the outdoors without sending your immune system into overdrive:
1. Get a head start on prevention. Start taking allergy medication two weeks before your symptoms usually begin, as recommended by the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology.
2. Know your triggers. If you can identify which plants or fungi cause your symptoms, you can try to avoid them.
3. Keep track of the daily pollen count for your area. If the pollen count is projected to be high, save outdoor activities for a lower-count day.
4. Know when to go (out). If you head outdoors on cloudy or windless days, or right after it rains, you’re less likely to encounter a lot of pollen in the air. Pollen favors hot, dry, windy conditions.
5. Avoid outdoor chores, if possible. Mowing grass and raking leaves exposes you to pollen and mold, respectively. Hire someone for those tasks, if you can, or wear a dust mask if you take them on.
6. Modify your workout. Save running and other strenuous activities, which can make it harder to breathe during pollen season, for the gym and enjoy less taxing forms of exercise, such as walking, when you’re outside.
7. Consult an expert. An allergist can identify the allergens that give you trouble and recommend treatments, such as allergy shots, if over-the-counter medications don’t offer sufficient relief.
Leave Pollen at the Door
If you take steps to minimize your exposure to pollen when you go outside, don’t undermine your good work by inviting it into your home. Here’s what you can do to keep pollen outdoors where it belongs:
• Batten down the hatches. Keep windows and screen doors closed.
• Change clothes when you enter your home. Wash clothes that have been exposed to the outdoors and dry them inside instead of on an outdoor line, where they can attract pollen.
• Take frequent showers. Pollen can cling to your hair and skin, so be sure to shower after spending time outside. Don’t go to bed without showering, as hair-bound pollen can get on your pillow and irritate you during sleep.
• Wipe down furry friends. Use wet wipes to remove pollen from your pets’ coats.