Allercy and Asthma Health
The Official Publication of AAN - MA

How Bad Will the Upcoming Allergy Season Be?

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By Mike Shoemaker. MBA, RRT-NPS, AE-C

How do you know what kind of clothing to pack for an upcoming vacation? Or, how do you know whether or not to take an umbrella to work today? It's easy — you check the weather forecast, right? Did you know that you can be prepared to minimize your allergy symptoms by knowing the "allergy forecast" too? By simply knowing current weather conditions you can have a good idea of what to expect when the allergy season hits.

Weather conditions will affect the severity and the duration of the allergy season. Did you experience a mild, warmer than usual winter? If so, it's likely that trees will begin to pollinate earlier in the spring. Or, if your area had a very cold winter with late-season freezing temperatures then pollination may be delayed, leading to lower pollen counts. On rainy days the pollen count may be lower as pollens are removed from the air. Of course, the strong breeze that often comes right before the rain can really spread pollen around, so be aware of that as well.

You may also wonder, "when exactly is allergy season?" The answer is that allergy season can exist almost year-round, depending on your location and your particular allergies. Trees tend to pollinate in the spring. As you move into the summer months grasses pollinate, and then in late summer and moving into fall weeds are pollinating (including the dreaded ragweed!).

If you know what pollens you are most sensitive to, and you know when those pollens are most likely to be floating around in the air, then you can be better prepared to avoid exposure. Several simple steps can help you breathe easier when pollen counts are high:
  • Use a mask when outdoors, especially in the mornings and on dry, windy days.
  • Shower after being outdoors to remove pollen from your skin and hair.
  • Avoid using an outdoor clothesline to dry clothes.
  • Keep your doors and windows closed and turn on the air conditioner.
  • Take allergy medications as prescribed by your doctor.
Be sure to prepare yourself now for the upcoming allergy seasons by knowing what to expect ahead of time. For detailed and specific allergy forecasts there are several easy-to-access websites available, as well as free apps for iPhone and Android devices. Here are some resources that can help: Mike Shoemaker is a member of the American Association for Respiratory Care from Anderson, SC, where he serves as manager of respiratory care services, pulmonary diagnostics, and pulmonary rehabilitation at the AnMed Health Women's and Children's Hospital. He is also site coordinator for the ASME Certified Asthmania Academy.

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