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A cold winter and late-season snow storms in some parts of the country could mean that spring allergy season is especially rough this year. Some trees pollinate in the late winter and early spring, but cold temperatures can delay the timing of flowering and pollen release. That means that the pollen from these trees will be released around the same time that other trees and grasses release pollen later in the spring, resulting in a pollen “explosion” of sorts.
Earth Gauge Viewer Tip: So what’s an allergy sufferer to do? Limiting your exposure to pollen can help manage allergy symptoms.
Watch the weather. Weather and environmental conditions can affect the severity of your allergy symptoms. Pollen moves around less when conditions are rainy, cloudy and still, so your allergy symptoms may be better on these days. Pollen travels more readily on hot, dry and windy days, which can increase allergy symptoms. Exposure to outdoor air pollution like ozone can also increase sensitivity to allergens.
Button up. Keep windows at home and in the car closed to keep pollen from drifting into your living space.
Dry clothes indoors. Avoid hanging clothes outside to dry, where they can collect pollen.
Spend time outside after 10:00 a.m. Pollens are usually emitted in the early morning hours, from 5:00 to 10:00 a.m.
Garden carefully. Mowing and raking can stir up pollen and mold.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has more tips for dealing with outdoor allergens.
Image: American Elm pollen, courtesy of USDA.
Dennis, B. and Cha, A. E. “Allergy Alert: Tidal wave of pent-up pollen could be headed our way,” Washington Post, April 2, 2014.
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). “Outdoor Allergens: Tips to Remember.”
McMillan, M. “Spring Allergy Outlook: Can Cold Weather Make Pollen Worse?” WebMD
Weir C, et al “Ambient air pollution and allergic sensitization: results from the National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2006? AAAAI 2012; Abstract 72)