Pollen Avoidance in the Home
Pollens are the fertilizing agents of flowering plants, including trees, grasses, and weeds. Different pollens are abundant at different times of the year. Your physician can gather many clues to your sensitivity by asking at which time of the year you are most troubled by allergies. Weeds generally pollinate in the fall, whereas trees and grasses pollinate in the spring. If you are especially sensitive to pollens, then it’s vital to learn how to practice pollen avoidance in the home.
Pollens are microscopic and capable of being carried through the air for great distances. A good analogy is to regard them as microscopic balloons, invisible to the naked eye, floating in huge masses. Millions, sometimes billions, can be released by one plant. Many colorless, not particularly fragrant plants produce large amounts of pollen because they can not rely on insects that are attracted by colour and fragrance to carry out fertilization.
Two windborne grass pollens that pollinate in May and June are Timothy grass and Blue grass. If you are allergic to pollens, determine which plants bother you and their times of pollination. If these plants grow around your house, you may find some relief by eliminating them. But remember, pollen can be airborne for long distances so your chances of complete relief are slim.
The most problematic pollen is ragweed, which prevails August through September. Farther west, ragweed eventually disappears, so if you take your holidays in California, or on the West Coast of Canada or the United States, you may be symptom free!
To appreciate the impact of ragweed, consider this: one ragweed plant can release billions of pollen grains, and these can travel more than 100 miles a day, farther on windy days. In eastern and central Canada and the United States, it is estimated that well over 300 million tons of pollen are circulated August and September.
Because pollen can be carried great distances, you should be aware not only of plants growing in your immediate vicinity but also of those that grow in your county and state.
Weather conditions play their part. Pollen counts are lower in rainy weather, higher in the early morning and during warm, dry weather.
Not all pollens cause reactions. Pine tree pollen, for instance, doesn’t seem to be a problem, whereas poplar, beech, and oak pollens are common instigators.
Guidelines for Pollen Avoidance in the Home
Pollen poses difficulties in terms of control, but the following guidelines will help:
- Avoid, if you can, going outdoors on days when pollen counts are high, namely dry, windy days, late evenings, and early mornings.
- Close all windows, especially when you sleep. The allergy sufferer should occupy a cool bedroom, so that the bedroom window(s) can be kept closed.
- Air conditioning decreases indoor pollen counts if it recirculates indoor air instead of drawing in outside air.
- Fans in the attic or other rooms may aggravate the problem by drawing in outside air with high pollen counts.
- Keep car windows closed during trips to the country. If possible, have air conditioning in the car.
- Don’t plant a lot of trees and shrubs around your house.
- Shower and shampoo after coming in from outdoors. Put on fresh clothing after you shower.
- Eliminate weeds by uprooting them and/or using weed killers.
- Avoid plants related to ragweed. These include: mums, zinnias, dahlias, and sunflowers.
- Consider installing an electronic/electrostatic furnace filter and an air purifier.
- Check your weather network, newspaper, or national allergy bureau for pollen forecasts (1-800-9-POLLEN).
If you are going to drive and want non-drowsy allergy relief, read the package insert of your allergy medication. If your allergy medication cautions you about driving while under its influence, then it probably is not non-drowsy.