If you dread dealing with fall allergens, longer summers might sound like a lifesaver — but more warm days might have a different effect on pesky pollen than you think.
We love autumn’s beautiful colors and fun holidays, but all the pollen in the air? Not so much. If you’re sensitive to common fall allergens that come from ragweed, fallen leaves and grass, you might dread the end of summer and cross your fingers each year that the warm weather sticks around. Unfortunately, long summers don’t mean fall allergens show up later than usual — but there are still plenty of ways to stay ahead of the sniffles.
Even when the typical autumn temperature drop happens later in the season, pollen will still be present in your outdoor air.¹ The ragweed plant — the most common fall allergen in the U.S. — actually starts releasing its pollen in late summer when nights are cool and days are warm, so more hot days aren’t likely to change its schedule.¹ In fact, longer summers may mean you need to start any symptom management earlier than usual: a warmer autumn means pollen, grass and mold have even more time to stick around before winter sets in.¹
The “pollen count” tells you the amount of pollen in an area. It’s measured by the number of pollen particles in one cubic meter of air and scored on a scale of “low” to “very high”.² Each allergen is different, so a low number for one type might be high for another. For example, a very high count for weed pollen is 500 or more, but a very high count for tree pollen is 1,500 or more.² Make a habit of checking the pollen count every day before you leave the house by consulting the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology’s (AAAI) website to see the levels of pollen in your area.
What you wear can make a difference in how many allergens you’re directly exposed to. If you do have to spend time outside, wearing a hat and sunglasses can help keep pollen out of your eyes, and wearing a face covering can potentially mitigate the amount you breathe through your nose and mouth.¹ It’s also a good idea to wash clothes that you wear outdoors every time you use them to avoid getting allergens all over your closet. Be sure to wash your hair after spending a lot of time outdoors, too — allergens that settle on your hair can stick to pillowcases and blankets and bother you while you’re trying to sleep.¹
The good news is, it’s much less tempting to open up windows when the muggy summer air is sticking around! If you’re trying to avoid pollen and mold, keep windows and doors closed when pollen counts rise above “low.” Make sure to change your HVAC filter every month, or run an air purifier in your bedroom if you don’t have forced air in your home.
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