Importance of Avoiding Pollen
According to the Expert Panel Guidelines for managing asthma, the first and foremost step in controlling allergic asthma is to reduce exposure to allergens to which you are sensitive. So, if – like many people with asthma – pollen is one of your triggers, then you should focus on avoiding pollen as much as you possibly can.
Having said that, though, it's also important to state that total avoidance of all environmental allergens is not practical or realistic. It's not feasible to think that most of us will never go outdoors during pollen season. So, chances are, you will be exposed to some pollen now and then, which may trigger your asthma symptoms.
Still, there are some steps you can take that will decrease your exposure, and you should take them if you want to stay as healthy as possible.
Tips on How to Avoid Pollen
- Track pollen counts daily. Most local news and radio stations will report pollen counts during peak pollen season. You can also go online to websites such as Pollen.com, The Weather Channel or AAAAI's National Allergy Board. You may even be able to find software you can download to your desktop (such as WeatherBug) that will help you track pollen counts for your area or anywhere else you may travel.
- Stay indoors during peak pollen times. Pollen counts tend to be highest during the morning hours, so try to go outside only in the afternoons or evenings. Pollen counts are also highest on dry, windy days, so stay indoors as much as you can on days like that.
- On hot days, stay indoors in the air conditioning, rather than having windows open. This also applies to car travel; keep windows up and the air conditioning on. These measures will reduce your exposure to outside air that may have high levels of pollen spores. The filter in the air conditioner may further screen out some of the pollen, by cleaning, cooling and drying the air.
- If vacationing during pollen season, shoot for low-pollen areas such as the beach.
- Avoid freshly cut grass. Don't mow the lawn, or walk through freshly cut grass. If you must mow, then wear a mask with a HEPA filter that can reduce some of your pollen exposure. When you're done mowing, take a shower and shampoo to remove any pollen and change to fresh clothes.
- Don't hang clothing outdoors to dry. Clothes or linens hanging outside can collect pollen spores. It's better to use a clothes dryer, especially during times when pollen counts are high.
As mentioned above, total avoidance of pollen is probably not possible. So, you should also be sure to take all of your asthma controller medicine as prescribed. And keep your quick-relief inhaler close by too, just in case.
Living a life without limits may mean making some compromises in some areas, so that you can keep breathing well and staying active. But, any steps you can take will be well worth it in the long run.
"Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma." NHLBI Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Asthma. 28 Aug 2007. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. 18 Dec. 2007 <http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/asthma/asthgdln.pdf>
"Tips to remember: outdoor allergens." 2007. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. 31 May 2008