The Blooming Battle
Record rain and snow levels this winter have many in Solano County cheering the idea that the drought may be over. But, allergy sufferers may not be cheering, with everything in bloom.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), pollen counts may actually be higher when it’s dry. During dry seasons, trees actually release more pollen. And, since there is less moisture in the air to weigh down the pollen grains when the wind blows, this helps more pollen travel farther and more easily.
Light, steady rain showers can wash the pollen away, keeping pollen from flying through the air. The humidity that follows helps keep pollen down too, so rain can have a welcoming benefit.
However, rain can also cause issues for those who have grass, weed, dust and mold allergies, according to the AAFA. If it rains when grass and weed pollen are high, rain drops hit the ground and break up clumps of pollen into smaller particles. They then quickly disperse, causing a sudden increase in allergy and allergic asthma symptoms. This tends to happen more during sudden, heavy downpours.
In Solano County, tree pollens occur between February and May, grass pollens ramp up between April and June, and weed allergy season runs from August to November.
There are some things you can do to help ease allergic symptoms of sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, and a runny or congested nose, according to Shanaz Khambatta, D.O., family medicine provider for NorthBay Health:
- Check pollen counts in the morning. Pollen levels vary day to day, so it’s a good idea to get an idea of how high the pollen count is before your day starts. Check an app or local weather website On high-pollen days, try to stay indoors.
- Wear an N95 mask. If you have to go outdoors on high pollen days, an N95 mask, sunglasses and a hat can help keep pollen off your face and out of your airways.
- Clean your house more often during allergy season. Vacuum with a HEPA filter, dust and do laundry more often.
- Shower when you get home. Pollen is going to stick to your hair and skin, so a shower washes it away.
- Take your shoes off. Leave shoes outside or in the garage so you’re not tracking pollen inside.
Ask your primary care provider for more personalized advice on how to deal with your allergies. NorthBay Health patients can send a message or schedule an appointment with their doctor through the patient portal.