Pollen are reproductive cells released into the environment by plants, grasses, trees and weeds. They are the corollary to human sperm, but in the plant world. Pollen is everywhere, is airborne and windborne, and is present in great quantity most especially in the spring and fall. Weeds typically release pollen in late summer and fall. Most people who have pollen allergies (75%) have allergies to the pollen from ragweed. Just one ragweed plant can release a billion pollen grains. In the United States, about 1 in 7 people suffer from pollen allergies. That’s about 36 million people!
Is It Possible to Avoid Pollen?
Unfortunately, you cannot avoid pollen. Even if an allergy sufferer decides to stay indoors, pollen infiltrates buildings. Pollen is microscopic in size, although some larger particles can be seen by eye. Pollen particles are anywhere from 10 – 1000 microns in diameter, so there is a great diversity and variety in pollen size. The human eye can see down to about 40 microns.
People breathe pollen in, where it contacts mucous membranes and can even reach down into the lungs. When the body detects pollen, it recognizes it as ‘foreign’ matter and mounts an immune response against it. An inflammatory response occurs and antibodies against the foreign matter are released into the system in order to capture and/or fight off this foreign substance. The human body is quite stubborn and will continue to fight foreign particles as long as they are detected. Eyes, nose, throat, mouth, skin and stomach are all affected by this immune response. The more pollen in the air, the harder the body will fight. Therefore, the most important thing a person can do is try to decrease exposure to pollen as much as possible, especially during the main pollination seasons.
How Can a Person Decrease Their Exposure to Pollen?
A person who has a bad ragweed allergy can control their allergy symptoms with over the counter anti-histamines or pseudoephedrine. They should remain indoors in the early morning hours when flowers open with the rising of the sun, releasing the majority of their pollen. In addition, windows should be kept closed to attempt to control one’s indoor environment as much as possible. Even then, you will have pollen indoors. If you go outside for even a short period of time, pollen will stick to your skin and hair as well as to your clothing. A quick shower or bath to wash off excess pollen grains goes a long way to alleviating symptoms. Pets will also accumulate pollen on their fur, so be aware that your pet may be the source of allergy symptoms and that it might not be because of their dander.
One of the best investments you can make if you suffer from pollen in the air is to purchase an Airgle HEPA air purifier. Airgle purifiers will filter particulate matter from the air down to 0.3 microns in size. Since pollen is 10-1000 microns in size, you can be sure that a HEPA filter will capture as many pollen grains as possible.