ATLANTA — People who battle seasonal allergies are better going out in the mornings when pollen counts are lower, according to a new study. Scientists report pollen counts peak in the later afternoon and early evening, while falling to their most tolerable levels between 4 a.m. and noon.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Stanley Fineman of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), says the results could help people allergic to pollen enjoy more of the outdoors.
“People who have pollen allergies can generally benefit from knowing at what times of day pollen counts are highest,” he explains in a statement. “We monitored hourly pollen levels in three areas of Atlanta for a week using an automated real-time pollen imaging sensor. We found that lower pollen levels occurred between 4:00 a.m. and Noon. Higher levels of pollen occurred between 2:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.”
As many as 60 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, according to the CDC. It is mostly triggered by an allergic reaction to grass pollen, which is almost impossible to avoid during the spring and summer when plants shed extremely fine particles as part of their reproductive cycle.
There is currently no cure for hay fever, which is the most common name of a pollen allergy. Many people rely instead on antihistamines to reduce the symptoms of their allergic reactions which can include runny nose, itchy eyes or throat and frequent sneezing.
However, Dr Fineman, presenting his findings at the ACAAI annual meeting in Kentucky, say sufferers can reduce their exposure by heading out when pollen count is lower which would therefore cause less of a reaction. “I see patients every spring and fall who are really suffering due to their pollen allergies,” he says. “There are ways to diminish the impact of pollen during allergy season, including closing windows and taking off shoes and pollen-laden clothes when you walk in your door, and immediately throwing your clothes in the washing machine.
“If you are someone who enjoys outdoor activities, you need to be aware of when pollen counts are lowest, and what times are best for you to be outside,” he adds. “Weather apps and websites are a good way to monitor pollen levels in your area.”
South West News Service writer Danny Halpin contributed to this report.