Gardening the Allergy-Friendly Way
For many people with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever), getting their hands dirty in the garden has consequences. Sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion, and other reactions can turn yard work into misery. However, with a few simple precautions, allergies don’t have to stand between you and your garden.
The best times of day to be outdoors are when the pollen levels are lower. This is typically on rainy, cloudy, and windless days. Pay attention to pollen counts in your area by subscribing to the email alerts available from the National Allergy Bureau at aaaai.org/nab. The NAB provides the most accurate and reliable pollen and mold levels from approximately 78 counting stations throughout the United States, two counting stations in Canada, and two in Argentina.
♦ Cherry trees
Allergenic Plants to Avoid
♦ Johnson grass
♦ Rye grass
Avoid touching your eyes or face when doing yard work. You may also consider wearing a mask to reduce the amount of pollen spores that you breathe in.
Leave gardening tools and clothing – such as gloves and shoes – outside to avoid bringing allergens indoors. Showering immediately after gardening may also help reduce symptoms.
Certain flowers, trees, and grasses are better suited for the gardens of people with outdoor allergies (see sidebar). The best way to determine which plants trigger your allergic reactions is through skin testing. Your doctor can help you develop strategies to avoid troublesome plants and pollen and can prescribe medication to alleviate symptoms.
Allergy shots may offer permanent relief from allergy symptoms. Check with your doctor to see if this is an effective treatment for you.
Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, www.aaaai.org
This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, March/April 2012.