How does the weather affect pollen?

Dry days, sunny days or windy days – which are the worst for allergy sufferers?

How does the weather affect pollen?
How does the weather affect pollen? [A field of rapeseed in Duisburg, Germany Martin Gerten/EPA]

If you suffer with allergies to pollen, the spring and summer months can be especially unpleasant and spoil many a day spent outdoors enjoying the fine weather.

Weather plays an important role in how much pollen is produced, how it is distributed and how much pollen is in the air at any given time.

Rain, wind and temperature are all important factors to consider when determining if pollen counts will be high, moderate or low on a particular day.

Allergy symptoms are often reduced on rainy or windless days because the pollen does not circulate as much during these conditions. Pollen tends to travel more with warm, dry and windy weather, all of which can increase unpleasant allergy symptoms.

During a stretch of cold and wet days, the pollen levels are typically lower.

The season and the time of day are also factors to consider. Overall, pollen counts tend to be higher in the morning and so it is best to save any outdoor activities for late afternoon or after heavy rain, when pollen levels are lower.

The change of seasons has a big impact on allergies and pollen generation: a mild winter can mean an early start to the allergy season with earlier onset of pollination of trees and plants. If the mild conditions continue into spring, the higher pollen counts will be found earlier in the season.

Dry conditions and drought during the growing season can be a good thing for allergy sufferers as the growth of trees and plants is typically slower.

If you are allergic to pollens produced by trees, weeds or grasses, drought may mean less pollen and fewer allergy symptoms. A wet growing season would have the opposite effect, with rain aiding the growth of pollen-producing grass, plants and trees.

Changes in temperature during spring are an important factor on pollen levels. Warm air and higher temperatures will produce an increase in pollen counts. On the positive side, a sudden drop or even a freeze in temperatures can halt pollen production.

However, a spring with temperatures varying widely from day to day can make a person’s sensitivity to allergens more severe, as the constantly changing and varied temperatures cause your body to boost the immune system, and further into the pollen season your body will be even more hypersensitive or hyperactive to the new pollen produced.

What can you do to make pollen season more bearable?

Pay attention to the weather. Check your local pollen forecast and plan to spend less time outdoors when the count will be high.

Prepare. If you have allergies at the same time every year, get ahead of the problem and ask your doctor for allergy remedies which you can begin taking ahead of time and in many cases you can prevent the symptoms before they even begin.

Control your environment. You cannot change what is happening outdoors, but you can have some control over your indoors environment, so keep windows closed and if possible use air conditioning to filter out pollen and mould.

Get the right diagnosis. There are many types of plants out there which could be causing your allergies, so see your doctor for an allergy test to determine what it is triggering your symptoms and then take the recommended action.

If you can follow some of these simple, clear steps, you will be well on your way to spending the best months of the year outdoors, whatever the weather has in store.

Source: Al Jazeera