10 tips for battling pollen this season

Why we're in pollen overload this season and what you can do about it.

Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

So the warm weather has finally arrived and you want to enjoy it this weekend. But with the gorgeous weather has come an ugly truth: It’s allergy season.

The overload of pollen can be blamed on April’s cooler temperatures, which led trees and plants to slow down the blooming process, says Evan Dackow, a certified arborist and an allergy sufferer.

With temperatures now cranked up to 80 degrees and higher, “everything is coming to bloom right now” as we’re getting three weeks of pollen production all at once.

Here are some ideas to get through the big bloom:

The best times to be outdoors is actually on cool, rainy days, as the precipitation moistens pollen and keeps it on the ground. The worst time — when pollen counts are highest — are warm, dry, breezy days, when the wind blows the pollen around.

If you must go out, pull hair back and wear a hat and sunglasses.

Those who are driven to be outdoors — gardeners, runners, dog walkers — can consider wearing pollen masks. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology suggests National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health rated 95 filter masks.

Get to the shore as often as possible on higher-pollen days. Short on trees and grasses, the beach is not a pollen-friendly environment, though it’s not necessarily a pollen-free zone.

Keep windows closed at home (also in your car) and rely on air conditioners, set to recirculate mode, says Dr. Ilene Goldstein, an allergist in Huntington and Smithtown who’s also president of the Long Island Allergy Society.

Look for air purifiers and vacuums that use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. Pictured, a vacuum cleaner’s HEPA filter.

Remove pollen-laden shoes and clothes when you come indoors, and brush your pets before letting them inside. Consider bathing them once a week if possible. You might want to break out the mask again while doing this.

Look at your bedroom as a safety zone, a place where you spend six to eight hours of every day, says Dr. K.C. Rondello, allergy sufferer and professor at the Adelphi University College of Nursing and Public Health. That means taking special care to keep it as pollen free as possible, changing/washing bedding every few days, bathing yourself and washing your hair every single night.

In addition to frequent hand-washing, start training yourself to minimize the number of times your hands make contact with (and transmit bits of pollen to) your face, says Rondello. Each time you rub an eye, pull at an ear, brush hair away, you’re “introducing the offending agent” to the neighborhood of mucus membranes, where irritation is the greatest.

Allergy & Asthma Network – http://www.allergyasthmanetwork.org/
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology – http://acaai.org/
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America – http://www.aafa.org/http://www.asthmaandallergyfriendly.com/
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