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Allergies: Avoiding Outdoor Triggers

Introduction

Allergic rhinitis causes symptoms of sneezing, congestion, and a runny nose. But you can control these symptoms with medicine and by avoiding the things that cause them (allergens). If you are allergic to outdoor allergens, such as pollen and mold, you don't have to give up an outdoor life. You just need to know when and how to take precautions.

By taking these precautions, you may have fewer or less severe symptoms.

How can I avoid exposure to outdoor allergens?

Avoid pollen

The following steps can help you avoid pollens. These tips can help you even if you don't know what type of pollen you are allergic to. If you do know, you can fine-tune them for that type of pollen.

  • Stay inside when pollen levels are high. Watch local weather reports for pollen counts in your area. In general, the pollen counts are lowest just after sunrise. They then begin to increase and are usually highest at midday and throughout the afternoon. They begin to decrease around sunset.
  • Keep windows and doors closed, both during the day and at night. Use air conditioning to help lower the amount of pollen that gets inside your house. Do not use a fan with an open window, as this can bring more pollen into your home.
  • Mow your grass often. If possible, have a family member or friend do it for you. If this is not possible, use antihistamines before you mow, and wear a pollen or dust mask while you mow.
  • Avoid bringing pollen back into your home when you go outdoors.
    • Take a shower and change clothing after you work or play outside.
    • Dry your clothes in a vented dryer. Do not dry them outside on a clothesline.
  • Take your vacation during the peak of the pollen season in a place where the plants you are allergic to don't grow.

Avoid mold

Mold may cause allergies that get worse in damp weather. Mold also produces spores that move around in outdoor air during warmer months. To avoid contact with mold spores:

  • Avoid going outside on rainy or windy days when mold spores may be in the air.
  • Avoid activities that expose you to molds, such as gardening (especially working with compost), mowing the lawn, or raking leaves.
  • Remove excess leaves, grass clippings, and compost from the areas close to your home.
  • Keep rain gutters and drains clear of leaves and other debris, and make sure the water from downspouts flows away from the house.
  • Use products available in auto supply stores to reduce mold that can develop in your car air conditioner.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Rohit K Katial, MD - Allergy and Immunology
Current as of March 12, 2014

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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