Controlling Allergens: Pollen

Photo of an air conditioning heat pump mounted on an outside wall next to a closed window

Constant exposure to allergens means constant allergy symptoms. That’s why it's important to control or avoid the allergens that cause your symptoms. If you are allergic to pollen, the tips below may help. The more you do to keep from allergens, the better you’ll feel.

Pollen allergy

The pollen that causes allergies is usually not the pollen carried from plant to plant by insects such as butterflies and bees. The types of pollen that most commonly cause allergies are made by plants (trees, grasses, and weeds) that do not have flowers. These plants make small, light, dry pollen granules that are blown from plant to plant by the wind.

Controlling pollen

Below are some tips to help you limit your exposure to pollen:

  • Check pollen counts and avoid spending a lot of time outdoors when counts are high. Pollen counts tend to be higher during warm, dry weather. They also tend to be higher during early morning and late afternoon hours. In some areas, daily pollen counts are reported in the paper and on the radio.

  • After spending time outdoors, bathe or shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes.

  • Stay indoors as much as you can on windy days.

  • Keep windows closed and air conditioning on, if possible, in your car and your home.

  • Have someone else do gardening, yard work, or other outdoor chores. Masks are available if you have to spend time outdoors.

  • When your allergies are at their worst each year, try getting away to a place where your allergies won’t bother you as much. This might be a time to try to plan a vacation or visit a friend or relative.

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about medicines that can help. And, whether or not you might benefit from seeing an allergist.

Pollen allergy is seasonal

People have allergies only when the pollen to which they are allergic is in the air. Each plant pollinates more or less the same from year to year. Exactly when a plant starts to pollinate seems to depend on geographical location—rather than on the weather.