Pollen, Sneezing, Wheezing Oh My!

Here in the Washington DC area, spring is beautiful, but for many of us it brings .  We want to enjoy the flowers and trees in full bloom, but with each rainy day followed by a warm day, the pollen count worsens.

Have you ever wondered if the DC metro area is among the worst cities for seasonal allergies?  You will be comforted to know, it is not.  Last year, the DC-based Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ranked Washington 56th on its list of the 100 most challenging places to live with fall allergies. The foundation also publishes a list of bad places for spring allergies; worse than average pollen counts this spring caused Washington to jump from 43rd to 25th.  Even then, two dozen other cities rated worse.

Allergies are the result of your immune system making a mistake and attacking pollen, thinking it’s an infectious germ.  They afflict people of all ages, but seniors may experience harsher symptoms.  Our immune systems get weaker as we age, so some seniors suddenly get allergies when they never had them before.

Here are a few strategies to combat spring allergies so you can continue to enjoy the outdoors:

  • Track the pollen count daily when you’re planning outdoor activities.  Visit Pollen.com (insert your zip code at the end) to assess the pollen count near you.
  • When you come in from outdoors, change your clothing and wash them immediately to reduce pollen falling onto your furniture.  Remove your shoes when entering the house.
  • Always wear sunglasses outdoors to reduce the chance of pollen blowing into your eyes.
  • Days where the pollen count is low but the wind is high can be as bothersome as higher pollen count days.  Wind can blow pollen to unexpected places.
  • Keep windows and doors closed and us an air purifier along with your air conditioning for  cleaner circulation.
  • Seek the advice of your doctor or pharmacist before taking OTC allergy medication.  Not all of them are the same and some of them may interact with any other medicines you may be taking.

If the budding flowers and trees are calling you outdoors, be strategic about when you answer the call.  Checking the forecast and taking precautions can allow you to enjoy all the beauty springtime in the Washington, DC area has to offer.