If you suffer from pollen allergies, you may not be as excited as other people to see spring finally arrive after a long, harsh winter. For the estimated 40 to 60 million Americans who suffer allergic rhinitis–a condition for which grass and tree pollens are a common trigger–a prolonged winter season can mean more pollen than usual. Therefore, understanding how the timing of warm weather affects the pollen count can help you manage a pollen allergy more successfully.
Why More Pollen Is in the Air
When spring doesn't arrive on schedule and trees don't bloom on time, grasses and trees end up pollinating simultaneously. Since grasses usually come out of dormancy after the trees bloom, this puts even more pollen into the air, which isn't good news for seasonal allergy sufferers. Sneezing and a stuffy and runny nose along with watery, itchy eyes make for a woeful combination.
If you live in an area where a wide variety of tree types grow, you could be in real trouble. Evergreens, elm trees, poplars, birch trees, cedar trees, and sycamores all are common pollen producers that cause allergies.
Oak trees, in particular, are a major culprit when it comes to allergies. The trees, which grow in many regions throughout the U.S., produce lots of pollen. When you factor growing grasses into the equation, you see the pollen count rise.
What Causes Delays in Pollen Release
Climate, particularly low temperatures and/or heavy precipitation, contributes to how severe the allergy season will be. While cold temperatures extending into the spring can delay the release of pollen, a lot of rain or snow promotes the growth of grass, flowers, plants, and trees once the temperatures do begin to warm up.
Even though pollen release may come later in the spring than usual, more vegetation means more pollen. The problem with pollen is that it's light, so it travels easily through the air.
Measures You Can Take to Ease the Misery
If the allergy season is really bad, it helps to change your clothes when you come in after being outdoors. That way, you won't be continuously exposed to the pollen that got on your clothing. It's also a good idea to shower and wash your hair before going to bed. Otherwise, you can transfer any pollen in your hair to your pillow where you'll breathe it in.
Take an antihistamine before calling it a night. By taking the medicine at bedtime, you won't be as drowsy the next day. If over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants don't work, your doctor may recommend allergy shots or prescribe medication to treat the symptoms caused by grass or weed pollens. And when the local weather forecast predicts that the pollen count is going to be high–like on a warm and windy spring day–take your medicine before symptoms appear.
Contact a company like Hinsdale Asthma & Allergy Center for more information.