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Spring is here! It’s time to start opening the windows again! But, NOT SO FAST. If you have pollen allergies, opening your home in spring could allow these tiny grains to blow inside and cause sneezing, itchy eyes, and a stuffy nose. Learn more about the role pollen plays during allergy season and how to reduce your symptoms below.

Why Does Pollen Make You Sneeze?

On windy days, pollen can travel more than 100 miles from its source! The smaller the pollen grain, the more likely it is to be carried on a breeze and into your nose. If you’re not sensitive to pollen, this doesn’t bother you. However, if you have hay fever – or allergic rhinitis, as doctors call it – the pollen sets off your immune system, mistaking these harmless grains for invading germs. The resulting release of histamine sets off a chain reaction of symptoms. Seasonal allergies are just your body being overly protective against poor, innocent pollen.

When Seasonal Allergies Strike

The time of year when you start sneezing could tell you which type of allergy you have:

  • Spring allergies are usually caused by trees pollinating. Birch, cedar, pine, and cottonwood are particularly common allergy triggers.

  • Summer allergies result when grasses release their pollen. People are often allergic to Timothy, Johnson, or Rye grass.

  • Fall allergies stem from weed pollination. Ragweed is the biggest offender, and it can grow in nearly any environment.

If you want to enjoy spring without your allergy symptoms getting in the way, follow these tips:

  • Stay indoors from 10 am to 4 pm when pollen counts are generally at their highest.

  • Take off your shoes when you come in from outside to avoid tracking in pollen.

  • Change your clothes after spending a long time outside.

  • Shower at night so pollen in your hair doesn’t bother you while you sleep.

  • Keep your windows closed and run the air conditioner to keep cool instead.

  • Install a high-efficiency air filter in your central heating and cooling system.

Restock Your Air Filter Supply in Time for Allergy Season

If your goal is to limit your pollen exposure, you should use a MERV 8 filter or higher. At this efficiency rating, the filter helps to eliminate pollen, pet dander, dust, and dust mites. Remember to change the filter every 30 to 90 days, or whenever it appears dirty, so it can continue to do its job.

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