Pollens, tiny particles that travel in the air or carried by insects, are male cells of flowering plants and essential to plant fertilization.  However, if it is windy while pollination is in progress, there exists a higher tendency of wind-borne-pollen induced allergic conjunctivitis, rhinitis, and asthma.

In the United States, most wind-pollinating plants, those not attractive to insects, release pollens during one of the five pollen seasons: early spring (February-March), late spring (March-June), early summer (July-August), late summer to autumn (August-October), and winter (November-January).

Here in Florida, if one’s symptoms worsen during early spring, the probable cause is tree pollens.  In the late spring and early summer, tree and grass pollens would be the likely culprits.  From late summer to autumn, weed pollens, especially ragweed, are high.  During the summer and fall, but also year-round, mold spores are quite active.  During the winter, most areas of the country are typically pollen free, with the exception of Florida, South Central Texas, and South California, which have some pollen activity including a few trees, weeds and mold.

While warm air encourages pollination, cool temperatures reduce pollen production and rain washes it away.  Humidity affects the pollination process; a combination of low humidity and wind increases the amount of pollen in the air, which can increase the misery of allergy sufferers.

Tree, grass, and weed pollens account for almost all pollen-induced allergies; grass allergy being the most common in the world.  Levels of pollen can be calculated, with the use of a special device, by counting the average number of pollen grains in a cubic yard of air during a period of 24 hours.  Even though it may be critical for very sensitive people to avoid large doses of allergenic plants, many times it is almost impossible.  Pollen can travel many miles on a breeze, and can also be present in the home, often blowing indoors through open windows and doors.

Direct contact to allergens can be minimized by avoiding intense outdoor activity during the early morning and late afternoon hours, when pollen counts are high, and by wearing a dust mask while cleaning.  Other prevention methods are closing windows, utilizing a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrester) or ULPA (Ultra Low Penetration Air) air purifier, cleaning and replacing air-conditioner filters regularly, and monitoring the community pollen count report to know what to expect and how to prepare for it.

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