Allergies Pollen Seasonal Cycles

Most of us probably studied about birds, flowers, bees and plant life in elementary school and junior high. We may even have heard the word “pollen” in this context. However, few of us, if any, learned that allergies to pollen are common — and can cause symptoms ranging from runny noses and reddened eyes to coughs and sneezes.

About Pollen and Pollen Allergies

Trees, weeds and grass release pollen in the form of little particles in order to fertilize other plants. The particles travel on air currents. As a result, instead of encountering a plant, those particles may enter our throats and noses.

Not everyone is allergic to pollen. Seasonal allergic rhinitis, as medical experts refer to this condition, results from a combination of the environment and heredity. If you live in an area in which pollen producers (such as ragweed and Bermuda grass) thrive, you are more likely to suffer from an allergy to pollen. Your symptoms probably will be more severe if you have a parent or close relative such as a grandparent or aunt with a pollen allergy.

Seasonal Pollen Cycles

Understanding seasonal pollen cycles can help you manage your pollen allergy. Throughout the year, trees, grasses and weeds produce different amounts of pollen during specific periods, or cycles. These cycles as a group are referred to as seasonal pollen cycles.

The seasonal pollen cycles for each type of plant follow:

  • From February to May, trees produce the most pollen.
  • From April to August, grasses produce the most pollen.
  • From July to September, weeds produce the most pollen.

Not sure which type of pollen triggers your allergies? Track your symptoms during these pollen cycles. You can then use the results of your “detective work” to determine which period of the year is most problematic for you. This information also can be helpful for you to give your doctor, who can work with you to evaluate any medications needed to decrease your pollen allergy symptoms.

In addition, when the plant to which you are allergic produces the most pollen, you can follow certain precautions:

  • Ask someone else in your household to manage the gardening chores, such as mowing the lawn, during the relevant pollen cycle.
  • At home, avoid keeping your doors and windows open, and dry your clothes using an electric dryer rather than an outside clothesline.
  • Exercise during the late afternoon or early evening, when pollen counts are lower.
  • When you drive, keep your windows rolled up.

Pollen Counts and Allergies

Knowing the pollen count also can be helpful in managing your allergy more successively. Pollen counts are statistics that indicate the amount of the pollen measured in a cubic meter of air. Knowing the pollen count before you begin your day can help you to anticipate the severity of your pollen allergy. That way, you can take precautionary measures and, if needed, carry allergy medication with you when you leave the house.

Pollen counts vary based on the area in which you live and that region’s climate. To determine the pollen count in your area, check your local TV station or newspaper. Pollen count information also can be found on a variety of Web sites.

For example, the Weather Channel regularly shows the pollen “hot spots” across the United States, as well as the pollen counts throughout the nation.

Resources

MedicineNet. (n.d.). Definition of pollen count. Retrieved March 16, 2009, from the MedicineNet Web site http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=18526.

Weather Channel. (n.d.). Allergies