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This information was reviewed and approved by Carah Santos, MD (12/5/2022).

Pollen from trees, grasses and weeds can be inhaled and cause allergy and asthma symptoms. Pollen may travel many miles in the wind, so trees, grasses and weeds beyond your immediate area can cause allergy and asthma symptoms. Pollen allergies are often seasonal, and allergy and asthma symptoms occur when the amount of pollen in the air is high. Examples of allergy symptoms include itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing. Examples of asthma symptoms can be coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing. These symptoms may vary, depending on weather conditions and where you live.

Once an allergy has been identified, your health care provider may recommend medications or therapies to control symptoms. The next step is to decrease or eliminate exposure to the allergen. This is called environmental control. Evidence shows that allergy and asthma symptoms may improve over time if the recommended environmental control changes are made.

Reducing Pollen Exposure

Pollen is produced by trees, grasses and weeds, and it floats in the air. The key to eliminating or reducing exposure to pollen is to keep outside air out, or filter it before it comes inside. The normal filters on an air conditioning unit are quite adequate for this.

Here are a few other ways to reduce pollen exposure.

  • If possible, keep windows and outside doors shut during pollen season, especially during the daytime.
  • If you have central or room air conditioning, use it so you can keep windows and outside doors shut.
  • Use of swamp coolers is discouraged because of the increased potential for dust mite and mold growth, which both thrive in humidity.
  • Consider pollen counts when planning outdoor activities. It may help to limit your outdoor activities during the times of highest pollen and mold counts.
  • Outdoor activities may be better tolerated after a gentle, sustained rain.
  • Encourage hand washing after outdoor play to avoid transferring pollen from the hands to the eyes and nose.
  • If you are outdoors during high pollen counts, take a shower and wash your hair when you come inside.
  • If you are outdoors during high pollen counts, change your clothes (not in your bedroom) when you come indoors, and leave these clothes in the laundry room.
  • Dry laundry in a dryer only; avoid hanging clothes outside to dry.
  • Drive with your windows closed. If it is hot, use your air conditioner.
  • Keep pets that spend time outdoors out of the bedroom. In addition to animal dander allergens, they may carry and deposit pollen stuck to their fur.