Pollen is a fine yellow powder that is produced by flowers, trees, grasses and weeds. Its job is to fertilize other plants of the same species. Flower pollen, which is large and waxy, is carried from plant to plant at The Gardens at Texas A&M University by bees and does not tend to cause allergy symptoms. However, tree, grass and weed pollen is light enough to be carried by the wind; it is usually this type of pollen that triggers allergies.
What Causes Allergy Symptoms?
Your immune system works to protect your body from diseases, viruses and infections. But for more than 50 million Americans, their immune system mistakes harmless substances such as pollen as a dangerous intruder.
In order to fight off the intruder, your immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which causes your cells to release histamine. Histamine can increase your mucus production and cause swelling and itching; this is what causes your allergy symptoms.
Understand Pollen Counts
One way to reduce your pollen allergy symptoms is to stay indoors and keep windows shut on days when pollen counts are high. In general, pollen counts are highest in the mornings and on days that are dry and windy. The best time to go outdoors is after a good rain when the pollen has been settled from the air.
Around the country, pollen counts are measured with air sampling devices. These devices measure pollen type and concentration, and the data is reported on the National Allergy Bureau’s website. You can also check for pollen counts on your local Texas weather channel during the daily forecast.
Other Ways to Reduce Pollen Exposure
In addition to monitoring pollen counts, there are other ways to reduce your exposure to pollen and manage symptoms:
- Shower and change clothes after spending time outside to reduce the risk of tracking allergens through your home.
- Delegate outdoor chores like mowing the lawn and pulling weeds to someone without allergies. Hire a professional or a neighborhood kid if necessary.
- Bathe indoor/outdoor pets once a week. Don’t bathe them more frequently than this, or it can dry out their coat.
- If you have air conditioning, run it to remove allergens from the air. If you don’t have AC, you can invest in a portable HEPA filter to accomplish the same goal.
For more information about pollen allergies or to schedule an appointment with an allergy expert, call Texas ENT & Allergy today.