Whether you love to garden or just spend enough time in your yard to keep the grass mowed and the weeds under control, allergy season can make yard work a misery. Knowing what causes your allergies (your allergen) and how to avoid it or them can ease allergy symptoms.
Allergies are a response by the immune system to something it believes to be harmful to the body. When the allergen enters the body, such as when you inhale particles of pollen, the immune system jumps into action, causing the itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, and other symptoms of an allergic reaction.
“Hay fever” is a name often used for nasal allergies to pollen and other plants. If you have hay fever, you may have figured out by your symptoms what your allergens are, or at least determined what season you are likely to have an allergy attack. An allergist (a doctor who specialized in allergies) can do a skin test to determine exactly what your allergens are which can help you avoid them.
The most common weed allergen is ragweed. One plant can produce one billion grains of pollen each year, and it only takes a few grains of pollen to produce allergy symptoms in people who are allergic. Ragweed is common in most of the United States except the extreme north east parts of New England, and the southern tip of Florida. Another potent source of pollen is Bermuda grass which produces pollen year-round.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology offered these tips to keep allergy symptoms to a minimum when doing yard work:
• Check the pollen count – Try to work outdoors when the pollen count is at its lowest and stay indoors during high pollen counts. Peak pollen times vary depending on the weather, wind, the plant, and where you live. Check your local news or look online for the pollen count.
• Plan ahead – Take your allergy medicine before you head out to work in the yard. Don’t let your symptoms get a head start.
• Avoid contact – Wear gloves and a mask to limit your exposure to pollens.