People are already posting images of pollen powder on cars, blanketing sidewalks, and billowing out of trees.
For people with seasonal allergies, it can feel like the world is ending when pollen season hits. Unfortunately, it’s here, and people are already sharing their freaky pictures of the #pollenpocalypse on social media.
Photo by Getty Images
For the record, allergy season has just started and it’s expected to be the worst season ever. Basically, this is expected to get much worse before it gets better.
What am I supposed to do when the local pollen count is high?
For starters, don’t panic. Yes, it’s freaky when everything outside is blanketed in yellow, but there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself, says Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network.
That means checking the daily pollen level as soon as you get up to see what you’re up against. (Pollen.com allows you to search for your local pollen count, and even tells you the top allergens that are circulating on any given day.)
If you’re dealing with some truly intense conditions, it’s a good idea to check in with an allergist to see what, exactly, you’re allergic to and to find out if you need to adjust your medication, Dr. Parikh says. “If you suffer a lot, it may be worth considering allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots) which actually make you stop reacting to pollen over time by desensitizing you,” she says. “This is best long-term option, as some people become asymptomatic and most then need less medications in the long run.”
And, while it’s always a good idea to follow these lifestyle recommendations from the American Academy for Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) during allergy season, Prashant Ponda, MD, an allergist/immunologist with ENT & Allergy Associates says it’s definitely important do the following when the Pollenpocalypse hits:
- Keep your windows closed at night and use air conditioning (it cleans, cools, and dries the air).
- Try to stay inside when the pollen or mold counts are high.
- If you’re really struggling, wear a pollen mask if you have to go outside for long periods of time.
- When you get home, take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes.
- Try to delegate outdoor chores like mowing the lawn to someone else.
- Don’t hang laundry out to dry.
- Keep your windows closed when you’re in the car.
It’s also a good idea to wear sunglasses when you’re outdoors to protect your eyes from airborne pollen, says Lakiea Wright, MD, an allergist/immunologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the medical director at Thermo Fisher Scientific.
What should I do if I see a pollen wave or pollen cloud?
“Avoidance is key in this situation,” Dr. Ponda says. “If you are outdoors, then go inside right away and close all windows and doors, if you are at home.” If you’re not near home, try to get inside a public indoor space, preferably one with air-conditioning like a mall or library. “If you are driving, then close the windows, turn on your air-conditioning system, and set the air to recirculate,” he says.
Unfortunately, holding your breath if you can’t get inside isn’t going to do much, Dr. Parikh says. If you happen to run into a cloud or wave, do your best to shield your mouth, nose, and eyes in the moment, and then try to shower and change your clothes ASAP after it passes, Dr. Wright says.
Overall, experts says consistency with medications and doing your best to avoid being outside when the pollen count is through the roof are key. And, if you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to see an allergist.
Good advice from Prevention Magazine. Are we Americans the only one’s plauged by pollen ?