If your allergies are playing up more than usual, you’re not alone.
Americans are knocked down by a pollen bomb that hit earlier and harder than usual.
A mild winter has caused trees to release pollen prematurely, with the southeastern, mid-Atlantic and northeastern regions worst affected.
This year, Atlanta, Georgia, recorded its earliest ever “extremely high” pollen count on March 6, 10 days ahead of the previous record.
DailyMail.com spoke to three experts about how to protect yourself from the earlier pollen attack.
The image above shows the six tips experts have recommended to protect yourself from allergies this spring. The season starts earlier than usual
The map above shows the leaf index across America through March 7, 2023. The red color indicates earlier than normal flowering, while blue indicates later than normal. Data shows that this is earlier than normal in the southeast and mid-Atlantic
Estimates suggest that as many as 67 million Americans are allergic to pollen, including 14 million children.
About 25 million people also have asthma, which can be triggered or made worse by pollen.
Experts say asthma attacks start ramping up in the spring.
They are worst towards Easter, when the release of tree pollen overlaps with pollen released by grass.
Closing windows can keep pollen out of your home or car
Close your windows
While milder weather is on the way, experts recommend that allergy sufferers resist the temptation to open their windows.
Dr. Clifford Bassett, the medical director of Asthma and Allergy Care in New York, said this would keep pollen out of the house or car.
He told DailyMail.com, “Keep the windows closed at home or while driving and set the air conditioner to ‘recirculate’ to keep the pollen out.”
The windows act as a barrier against pollen entering the home or a vehicle, creating a kind of “safe zone” for patients.
Dr. Bassett, who is also a spokesperson for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, said that to stay cool, people should use their air conditioning but make sure they clean the filters recently for the best effects.
He told them not to use fans as they can suck pollen into the living space from the outside.
Dr. Robert McDermott, an allergist based in Colorado who is also part of the AllerVie Health Network, warned that it was especially important to keep bedroom windows closed.
“This is so we’re not exposed to pollen while we sleep,” he told DailyMail.com.
Experts recommend avoiding this because pollen gets on clothes
Do not dry clothes outside
Many of us hang laundry outside in the warmer months instead of piling it high in the laundry room.
But Dr. Lewis Ziska, a public health expert at Columbia University in New York, warned allergy sufferers about this.
“I myself suffer from asthma that is seasonal,” he told DailyMail.com.
To avoid reactions: ‘I don’t hang my clothes to dry on days when there is a lot of pollen in the air’.
Clothing can become coated with pollen grains released by plants, irritating wearers when it enters the lungs.
This can lead to endless misery for patients, whether it’s bedding, T-shirts or towels caked in granules.
Shower when you enter
One of the best ways to keep pollen out of the house is by washing regularly.
Dr. Ziska recommended taking a shower when you come in on warmer days.
This would remove any pollen you may have unknowingly brought in and send it straight down the drain.
Outside, microscopic pollen grains can stick to the body between hairs or on fibers in clothing and then be unintentionally brought inside.
To further mitigate the risk, Dr. Ziska also recommended dusting off clothing before entering to further protect yourself from pollen.
Track pollen levels
All three experts DailyMail.com spoke to urged people to keep an eye on pollen levels in their area.
This would allow them to take steps to protect themselves, they said, and make sure they have enough medication.
Dr. Bassett recommended that people track pollen levels through the National Allergy Bureau of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
It uses more than 50 counting stations across the country to monitor pollen and mold levels. It informs allergy sufferers about the risks.
Other ways to monitor include through the National Phenology Network, which also monitors pollen counts.
Inhalers can help with an allergic reaction to pollen
Carry an inhaler
All experts also recommended that allergy sufferers carry an inhaler.
Pollen allergies are caused by the immune system overreacting to a harmless substance — in this case, pollen.
It causes inflammation that causes the airways to tighten, restricting airflow, and can even lead to a rush of mucus that can block the airways.
To calm this reaction, patients are told to blow on inhalers. It’s best to always have one because it’s not clear when allergies might strike.
These normally contain albuterol, a drug that binds to receptors on muscles in the airways, causing them to relax and loosen up.
Others may also be offered levalbuterol inhalers, which work similarly to albuterol.
There are currently concerns about a shortage of albuterol for hospitals, but experts say this should not affect the supply of inhalers.
If you have a pollen allergy, it’s best not to go outside when it’s dry and windy, experts said. But you might be better off when it’s wet, rainy, and still
Do not go outside when it is dry and windy
Weather is a key factor in how much pollen is lurking in the air.
Dr. Ziska warned against going outside when it was dry and windy, saying it was “very good” to stay indoors.
At this point, the winds will likely have picked up a lot of pollen that could then be inhaled by patients, provoking a reaction.
Dr. Bassett reiterated the advice, saying it’s best for patients to go outside on wet, rainy and still days because there’s less pollen in the air.
When asked if there is a specific time of day when an allergy sufferer should not go outside, experts refuted the suggestion.
Dr. Bassett said: ‘Well, they used to say early in the day and late afternoon were worst for allergy sufferers, but I think that’s nonsense.
“If you’re a person with a history of pollen allergy, you should use something like a simple weather report and pollen count.”
There are some suggestions that green tea can relieve allergies
Is there room for green tea?
Among other suggestions for ways to manage asthma was drinking green tea.
Experts said there was some evidence that this could help reduce allergy symptoms.
But this is not supported by large-scale scientific studies.
Dr. Bassett said, “Studies from Japan support the use of drinking certain green teas that may help reduce seasonal allergy symptoms, at least for some tree pollens, such as cedar.”
Experts suggest that green tea may be protective against allergies because it contains quercetin, an anti-inflammatory compound.
It also contains the compound epigallocatechin gallate (ECHG), which may help block receptors involved in an inflammatory response.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a common but incurable condition that affects the small tubes in the lungs.
It can cause them to become inflamed or swollen, restricting airways and making it harder to breathe.
The condition affects people of all ages and often begins in childhood. Symptoms may improve or even disappear as children get older, but may recur in adulthood.
Symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing, and these can get worse during an asthma attack.
Treatment usually involves medication that is inhaled to calm the lungs.
Triggers for the condition include allergies, dust, air pollution, exercise, and infections such as the common cold or flu.
If you think you or your child has asthma, you should see a doctor, as it can develop into more serious complications such as fatigue or lung infections.