Time of day Pollen counts are highest, lowest

Time of day Pollen counts are highest, lowest

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The researchers say that the lowest pollen levels are generally found in the morning hours. Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images
  • Seasonal allergies are common and vary from day to day and even hour to hour.
  • The amount of pollen in the air changes with the seasons, the weather, and the time of day.
  • Avoiding exposure to pollen when counts are highest is one of the best ways to prevent allergy symptoms.

For many, allergies are considered a minor annoyance; maybe a week of sobbing in the spring or fall that can be fed.

But in truth, allergies are nothing to sneeze at. Nearly 1 in 6 people in the United States are affected, with an annual cost of more than $18 billion.

One of the most common allergies is to pollen, a dust produced by many plants that is carried by the wind.

The easiest way to avoid a reaction is to avoid the pollen itself.

To that end, the researchers measured hourly airborne pollen levels to determine what times of the day they are highest and lowest.

They submitted their research today at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting.

Their findings have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The research comes with some caveats, but experts say the results could still be helpful for many people with pollen allergies.

There are many sources of pollen, including flowering plants, grasses, and trees.

Each plant species releases its pollen at a different time of year, but spring and fall tend to have the highest concentrations.

If you have a pollen allergy, your body identifies it as dangerous and overreacts with your immune response.

For those with a pollen allergy, inhaling it can cause many symptoms, including:

  • runny nose
  • crying eyes
  • nasal congestion
  • sneeze
  • itching around the eyes, nose, mouth, or throat

It can also aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma.

To better help people avoid pollen, the researchers used special sensors to measure pollen levels in the air.

They took their measurements hourly from three locations in and around downtown Atlanta over the course of 8 days in late March 2021.

The lowest concentrations of pollen in the air were between 4 am and noon.

After that, pollen levels gradually increased, peaking between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Dr. Leonard BieloryFAAAI, an allergy and immunology specialist at Robert Wood Johnson University Rahway Hospital in New Jersey, told Healthline that “the importance of pollen levels is extremely significant for sufferers.”

“Knowing the total time of various pollens and their release times provides guidance on the best times for outdoor activities,” Bielory said.

Bielory stressed that pollen levels can vary greatly depending on the region and the local flora.

“In the Northeast, trees pollinate from mid-March to late May. Weeds pollinate in June and [continue] until September, with ragweed pollinating in August until the first frost,” Bielory said.

In contrast, mountain cedar in the Southwest “is an extremely potent pollen that starts around Thanksgiving and pollinates through February and even into March,” Bielory explained.

Dr Purvi ParikhFACP, FACAAI, clinical assistant professor at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, told Healthline that pollen levels have become increasingly difficult to predict.

“The weather has been unusually warm due to global warming, so the seasons are much longer and [have] higher levels of pollen,” said Parikh.

“First, find out what you’re allergic to by consulting a board-certified allergist,” Parikh recommended.

“There are various organizations that control pollen such as weather.com, local allergy and immunology practices, and allergy societies. They are usually pretty reliable,” she added.

If you must be outside when pollen levels are high, Parikh suggested, “remove your clothes when [you] go home, take a shower to wash off the pollen, and close the windows. Masking also helps with pollen allergies.”

melanie carverthe mission director of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), told Healthline that she agreed with other experts that the findings of this study were a bit surprising.

“Previous recommendations have been that tree pollen rises with the sun, increasing during the morning and peaking at noon or in the evening. In this study, hourly pollen counts found higher numbers later in the day,” Carver said.

However, he also noted that pollen is highly variable.

“Different plant species can behave differently. Pollen seasons are also influenced by weather, climate change, and air pollution,” Carver said.

“It’s important to know what allergies you have so you can get an effective treatment plan. It’s best to start allergy medications or treatments before pollen season begins,” he added.

“If your symptoms aren’t controlled with over-the-counter options, it’s a good idea to see an allergist,” Carver recommended.

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