Pollen is often a major irritant for those who suffer from allergies and asthma. Avoiding exposure to pollen altogether is impractical if not impossible, since it is produced by grasses, trees, flowers and weeds. However, keeping track of local weather conditions and pollen counts can help allergy-prone individuals lessen their exposure and avoid the symptoms pollen may trigger. The following guidelines can help you zero in on the best time to enjoy the outdoors without sneezing.
Understanding Pollen Counts
It's important to understand what a pollen count is to get the greatest use out of the data. These counts are based upon samples from the previous 24 hours, and are ranked as low, moderate, high or very high. However, the observed concentration of pollen in the air isn't the only factor influencing how pollen will affect you. The weather also plays a role, as does the time of day in which you are outdoors.
Watching the Clock
Peak pollen release for grasses is in the early morning or early evening. For those who are particularly allergic to grass pollen, it may be best to avoid outdoor exposure during these time periods. For other plants, peak pollen release typically occurs around midday or in the afternoon. Overall, the pollen count at ground level is at its lowest between the hours of noon and 5 p.m. A medical assessment of your allergies can help you pinpoint which times of day are best for you.
How Weather Affects Pollen
Weather plays a major role in how much pollen remains airborne. Hot, dry and windy days are the worst for those with allergies, as the pollen blows about in the air. Cooler, rainy days are better for outdoor activities. Rain "washes" the pollen from the air, with a slow steady rain doing a better job of this than a quick thundershower. In general, high humidity drives the pollen count down, with low humidity allowing it to rise. Warm weather encourages plants to pollinate, increasing pollen output with higher temperatures.