Health Watch -- Avoiding Pollen

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Changing a few habits may help you avoid the pollen that makes you sniffle and sneeze.

In the springtime, grass and tree pollen is a major cause of seasonal allergies. Allergy specialists at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say you can avoid the worst pollen problems if you change a few of your habits and take precautions.

Be careful about how you schedule your outdoor activities. Tree and grass pollens are at their peak in the early morning hours. Stay indoors at this time, and keep your windows shut.

If you go outside for an extended period at any point of the day, wash your hair when you go back inside. It's especially important to wash your hair before you go to bed. Dr. David Khan, a UT Southwestern allergist, says that hair acts as a magnet for pollen. If you go to bed without washing your hair, that pollen will get spread all over your pillow and you'll breathe it all night long.

People who are allergic to grass pollen should consider wearing a mask when they do yard work to minimize exposure to pollen that may get stirred up by mowing and raking.

You can also avoid pollen by driving with your windows rolled up, keeping your home windows shut and using the air conditioner. But don't forget to keep your air conditioner filters clean. You can even buy special filters designed to reduce the amount of allergens that can be spread through your house.

If these measures don't help or if allergies persist beyond the season, talk to your doctor about medications that will help ease your symptoms.