Spring allergy season is in full effect here in north Houston, with tree pollen in the “high” to “very high” red zones and grass in the “moderate” zone. Our tree pollen is so bad, in fact, that we have almost double the pollen count of the next highest city in the country (Las Vegas). So, what’s a Houstonian to do? Try these ideas to reduce the amount of pollen you’re exposed to and to help combat those yucky symptoms.

  • Despite the comfortable temperatures, staying indoors right now may be your best bet. If you do venture outside, try to do so in the early part of the day, when pollen counts are generally lower. Also, avoid going outside on very dry, windy days as this really kicks up the pollen.
  • Wear a facemask when doing yard work. Remember those masks we all had to wear when helping “demo” houses after Hurricane Harvey? Pop one on when you go for a walk, mow your lawn or plant your spring flowers. Wearing sunglasses or protective eyewear will help, too.
  • If you wear contact lenses, remove them for as long as possible. Your eyes get irritated from the pollen and the lenses trap that pollen underneath. When you rub your eyes, they scratch the surface and cause even more redness and discomfort.
  • Wash your sheets and clothing often, especially after being outside for extended periods. It is best to remove your clothes as soon as you come back inside, to help prevent pollen from getting in your carpet and on your furniture. And as nice as the idea may sound, do not line-dry your laundry outside.
  • If you suffer from allergy symptoms like a runny nose, post nasal drip, and painful sinuses, try using a Neti pot or other sinus rinsing system. When done with gentle saline it can help clear pollen from your nasal passages, reducing your body’s response to them. Mixing Melaleuca essential oil into your saline solution can really help, too.
  • When taking over-the-counter antihistamine products, be sure to give them enough time to work before you stop. Most take at least four days to become fully effective. Nasal sprays, like Flonase, work a little quicker, but will still take time to build up effectiveness.