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Allergies, asthma, and pollen

Alternate Names

Allergic rhinitis - pollen

Pollens

Things that make allergies or asthma worse are called triggers. It is important to know your triggers because avoiding them is your first step toward feeling better.

Pollen is a trigger for many people who have allergies and asthma. The types of pollens that are triggers vary from person to person and from region to region. Some plants that trigger hay fever and asthma are:

  • Some trees
  • Some grasses
  • Ragweed

Watch the Weather and the Season

The amount of pollen in the air can affect whether you, or your child, have hay fever and asthma symptoms.

  • On hot, dry, windy days more pollen is in the air.
  • On cool, rainy days most pollen is washed to the ground.

During pollen season, people with hay fever do better if they stay indoors in air-conditioned buildings, if possible.

  • Most trees produce pollen in the spring.
  • Grasses usually produce pollen during the late spring and summer.
  • Ragweed and other late-blooming plants produce pollen during late summer and early fall.

When Pollen Levels are High

When pollen levels are high:

  • Stay indoors and keep doors and windows closed. Use an air conditioner if you have one.
  • Save outside activities for late afternoon or after a heavy rain. Avoid the outdoors between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m.
  • Do not dry clothes outdoors. Pollen will stick to them.
  • Have someone who does not have asthma cut the grass, or wear a face mask if you must do it.

Keep grass cut short, or replace your grass with a ground cover. Choose a ground cover that does not produce much pollen, such as Irish moss, bunch grass, or dichondra.

If you buy trees for your yard, look for types that will not make your allergies worse. Some of these are:

  • Crape myrtle, dogwood, fig, fir, palm, pear, plum, redbud, and redwood trees
  • Female cultivars of ash, box elder, cottonwood, maple, palm, poplar or willow trees

References

Wallace DV, Dykewicz MS, Bernstein DI, Blessing-Moore J, Cox L, Khan DA, et al. The diagnosis and management of rhinitis: an updated practice parameter. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 Aug:122(2).

Updated: 5/16/2012

Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


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