Hello, spring. Hello birds, bees, and blossoms ... and sneezes, sniffles and crazy-making itchy eyes. The various types of pollen that make the plant world do its thing in spring are also responsible for making allergy sufferers downright miserable. About 40 million Americans are affected by seasonal allergies. For those afflicted, spring doesn't inspire visions of tiptoeing though the tulips - more like visions of hermetically sealing off the house and breaking out a hazmat suit.
But it doesn't have to be that way! The tips below can help you survive the pollenapocalypse and take back spring.
Main Photo: PathDoc/Shutterstock
1. Stay one step ahead
There are a number of sites and apps that keep you posted on the day-to-day threat in your specific area. The Allergy Alert email, for example, arrives in your inbox in the morning and lets you know what to expect in your ZIP code for the next two days. This can be a great tool for helping plan outdoor activities. The same site also has a cool map that displays specific pollen offenders by neighborhood.
2. Know your enemy
Pollen counts are the highest between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. and pollen especially loves warm, dry mornings. So be prepared. That said, a heavy rainfall tames the pollen beast, so right after a rain is a great time to get outside.
3. Remember the quirky pollens
While most pollen is worse in the mornings, some hold off to torture sufferers later in the day, and all pollen can be worse later if the morning was damp. Although there is not a lot of information about specific pollen release times of certain plants, we do know that birch offers up its irritating pollen between noon and 6 p.m.; so if that's one you are sensitive to, take note.
4. Beware of nice days after cloudy ones
Cloudy days encourage a buildup of pollen in flowers, which leads to an exuberant release of pollen as soon as the sun returns. So learn to love gloomy days; treat the subsequent sunny ones with suspicion.
5. Hit the beach; head for hills!
While areas prone to inversion can be loaded with pollen, the seashore and mountain peaks and ridges are generally low in pollen.
6. Wear sunglasses
Act like a movie star and wear big sunglasses; it will help to protect your eyes from pollen. For those with no shame, wear goggles.
7. Cover your mouth and nose
Face masks that prevent pollen from entering your mouth and nose can make a big difference; and fortunately, they are becoming more of a common sight. If you feel like too much of a pariah, a scarf will also offer some protection.
8. Grease your nostrils
Adding a smudge of Vaseline just inside your nostrils (and breathing only through your nose) will help trap much of the pollen. As soon as you're indoors, carefully wipe it away and rinse.