Indoor Vs Outdoor Allergies: Top Tips For Managing Symptoms
Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on March 25, 2020. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
Weâre approaching spring, and while the blooming plants and trees are pleasant to look at, unfortunately, for the more than 50 million of us who suffer from seasonal allergies annually, these pretty blooms are often anything but pleasant.
The good news?
Weâve gathered some helpful tips and info about the different types of indoor and outdoor allergens and when to watch for them, as well as advice on how to relieve allergiesâall year round.
With our easy at-home allergy test, you can check for 40 common indoor and outdoor allergens to find out what might be causing your uncomfortable symptoms.
Take Your Meds Before You Sneeze
Start taking allergy medications a few weeks before the season. Don’t wait until you have symptoms. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about over-the-counter and prescription options.
Use medicines that worked for you in the past. Pay attention to the weather, especially when winter weather turns warm and pollens and molds release into the air.
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. âPollen and Mold Counts.â
American Academy of Allergies Asthma & Immunology: “Reading the Charts.”
Lisa Hall, author, Taking Charge of Your Own Health, Harvest House, 2009.
Murray Grossan, MD, ear, nose and throat specialist, Cedars Sinai Medical Building Los Angeles; author, Free Yourself from Sinus and Allergy Problems — Permanently, Hydro Med, 2010.
Michael Blaiss, past president, American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology; practicing allergist, Memphis, TN.
Time Your Activity Appropriately
“If possible, pick a time of day to exercise when your allergy-inducing plants don’t pollinate,” Patil said. Peak pollination times for grasses are in the afternoon to early evening, so outdoor exercisers and gardeners who are sensitive to them may want to avoid these times. Dawn and dusk are the worst times for people with tree pollen allergies.
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Plan Your Runs When Pollen Counts Are Low
The amount of pollen flying around in the air varies depending on the time of day. Being aware of when your specific allergen is at its highest levels tells you which times of day are best and which ones may be better for running indoors on a treadmill.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology reports that, during the spring and summer months, tree and grass pollens tend to be higher in the evening hours. Ragweed, which can be more problematic in the late summer and early fall, is usually highest in the morning.
Schedule your runs so you are outdoors when these pollens are at their lowest points. You can also check your local pollen counts using websites such as Pollen.com.
Symptoms Of Outdoor Allergies
Before going in to suggestions aimed at avoiding outdoor allergies; it is important to understand the nature and symptoms of outdoors allergies. Outdoor allergies primarily fall into the broad spectrum of Allergic Rhinitis, which refers to any allergic reaction that affects the respiratory system and results in a runny nose, stuffy nose, sneezing and breathing difficulties.
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How To Treat Seasonal Allergies
In most cases, an over-the-counter antihistamine and decongestant will do the trick. If you have severe allergies, however, your doctor may prescribe nasal steroid spray or allergy shots to dampen symptoms.;
It’s always a good idea to try your best to avoid your triggers, but that doesn’t mean you have to hole up inside with a box of tissues. To get less exposure to your allergens:;
- Keep your windows shut when your allergies are active
- Use an air purifier if you’re sensitive to indoor allergens
- Wear a dust mask while doing yard work;
- Check your local weather network for pollen forecasts
- Take a shower and wash your hair at the end of each day to get rid of pollen that attached to your clothes, hair and skin
How To Get Rid Of Allergens In Your Home
Indoor allergens trigger the same reactions youd expect from outdoor irritants, with one major exception allergens in your home cause year-round allergy symptoms that are normally associated with hay fever or seasonal, allergy-induced asthma. Here are 10 things you can do to allergy-proof your home:
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Exercising Outdoors With Allergies
Its nearly springtime – the weathers brightening up, marathon season is around the corner and you might be tempted to head outside for a run yourself. For those living with hay fever, insect venom allergy, asthma and other allergies, running outdoors can bring its own set of challenges. By taking the right precautions, those with allergies can safely enjoy exercising outside.
- Wear wraparound sunglasses and a hat to keep pollen and other airborne allergens away from your eyes.
- Track pollen counts and avoid going outside when these are high. The Met Office have daily and weekly pollen counts.
- Avoid going out in early mornings and at evening, when pollen levels are highest.
- Change your clothing and shower when you return indoors to remove pollen from your body and hair.
- Consider running during, or right after a rain shower, when pollen counts are lower.
- Hay fever can exacerbate asthma symptoms. Always take your inhaler and medication with you on your run.
Read our Factsheet on allergic rhinitis for more information.
Insect venom allergy
Read our Factsheet on insect venom allergy for more information.;
Poor air quality can exacerbate symptoms of asthma. You can track pollution levels in your area and avoid the highly-polluted areas such as main roads and consider certain times of the day when planning your running route. Run outside of rush hour if possible, and keep your exercise session short.
Tips For Exercising With Allergies
As the weather warms, it is exhilarating to shift your daily exercise routine from inside to outside. Here are some tips to consider to help assure you can stick to your exercise regimen during pollen season.
Consider the weather.
If it is dry and windy, you should opt for the indoor treadmill. During high pollen season, the best time to exercise outdoors is during or right after the rain.
Consider the time of day.
In addition to staying out of peak sun, early morning affords the added benefit of dew to keep the pollen at bay
Consider the type of exercise.
Outdoor yoga is easier than something more strenuous like long runs or crossfit. But Definitely consider your options to maintain your regimen during allergy season.if not shower- to get any lingering pollen off your skin and hair. It is also wise to wash your exercise clothing to remove pollen there too. Consider using nasal saline spray or rinse after outdoor exercise during pollen seasons to remove allergens from your nose.
It goes without saying
that if you are using over-the-counter antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Allegra, and Allegra you should use these as directed on the package or by your physician to help manage your allergy symptoms during exercise.
Try to avoid lawn mowers.
While you may wish to use this tip to get out of mowing your own lawn, lawn mowers kick up a lot pollen and even mold, you should try to steer clear where possible, even if it is just crossing the street.
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Is It Safe To Exercise If I Have Seasonal Allergies
As long as youre feeling up to it, exercising is perfectly safe for your seasonal allergies.;
In fact, your workout can even help your seasonal allergies!
Being sedentary leads to a sluggish flow of blood because your heart is pumping at your resting heart rate all the time. When you exercise, your blood flow speeds up.
This increase in blood flow means allergens are moved through your bloodstream more quickly and efficiently, decreasing inflammation and irritation.
Just be careful not to overexert yourself if youve got a runny nose, sore throat, or sinus pressure. Even some light exercise during your worst attacks is beneficial.
Run After A Rainstorm
Pollen counts drop as the rain washes it away, so you’re less likely to experience allergy symptoms after it rains. Post-rain humidity can keep pollen numbers lower for days. That makes this a great time to run if you have seasonal allergies.
Yet, rain also causes pollen particles to rupture, breaking them into smaller, finer pieces. This makes it easier for them to enter your lungs. So, should you run after a rainstorm?
If it’s just a brief ran shower, you’ll likely be okay. But if it rains for long periods of time or downpours, you might want to enjoy the outdoors from the window of your indoor gym.
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Symptoms Of Allergies In Dogs
The symptoms of allergies in dogs may vary depending on the cause. A dog that goes into anaphylactic shock, for instance, will have a drop in blood pressure followed by shock, which is very different from a skin condition.
In general, however, the following symptoms could be a sign of an allergic reaction.
- Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eyelids, or earflaps
- Red, inflamed skin
Use A Dehumidifier To Reduce Indoor Allergies
A dehumidifier is a small machine that removes excess moisture from the air, making it difficult for mold and mildew to grow. It can also keep dust mites at bay since these creatures thrive in damp environments. Be sure to talk to your doctor if youve experienced sinus issues, as the dry air can actually exacerbate some sinus problems.
While its impossible to get rid of allergens entirely, you can control their impact at home. Once you identify your triggers and learned where the allergen hotspots are in your home, you can act accordingly to stop the spread of dust, dander, pollen, mites, and other unwelcome guests. By taking these steps, you will ultimately create a home environment that is healthier and more comfortable for you and your family.;
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Time Your Workout Right
Exercise at the time of day when your allergen levels are lower.
- Ragweed typically peaks early, so exercise after work
- Grass pollen peaks late afternoon/early evening, so try morning workouts
- If you live in a city, winds cause pollen to peak midday, so exercise in the morning or at night
Indoor And Outdoor Allergy Differences
Indoor allergy symptoms and outdoor allergy symptoms often overlap. To get allergy relief, you need to know how to tell them apart.
One out of every five Americans has an allergy, which means that the body’s defense system, the immune system, overreacts to foreign substances called allergens.
Indoor and outdoor allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis, seasonal allergies, or hay fever, are the most common types of allergies. Of the 50 million Americans with allergy symptoms, about 40 million are affected by an outdoor or indoor allergy.
These types of allergies may produce similar symptoms, but there are differences in where and when they occur. Outdoor allergies are more seasonal, and indoor allergies are more obvious in the winter when people spend more time inside,” explains Jill A. Poole, MD, an allergy specialist and assistant professor of internal medicine pulmonary at the College of Medicine at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
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Plan Outdoor Activities Around Pollen Levels
Checking daily pollen counts and forecasts and staying indoors when pollen levels are highest can help minimize outdoor allergy symptoms. While pollen counts can vary depending upon the time of year, the weather, and other factors, try to focus your time outdoors in the early morning when theyre usually lowest.
Is There A Good Running With Allergies Mask
Instead of a mask, I recommend grabbing a Buff. I like this brand because you can find light ones for summer or heavier ones for cool spring mornings, super easy to wash and use again!
Then you can pull it up or down as needed, but yes if you have severe allergies to pollen, ragweed or trees then this can provide another filter before things enter your nose and lungs where it will cause irritation.
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Common Causes Of Indoor And Outdoor Allergies
Allergies tend to run in families. If both your parents have allergies, you have about a 70-percent chance of having them also. Many people who have allergies are allergic to more than one allergen, so you could have both indoor and outdoor allergy triggers.
The most common sources of indoor allergies are:
- Pets. A main cause of indoor allergies is animal dander, a protein found on the skin and in the saliva of furry pets. “Cats are the most common pet allergy,” says Dr. Poole.
- Dust mites. Dust mites are tiny creatures that live in your mattress, carpet, upholstered furniture, and other areas of your home.
- Mice.“Mice and other rodents also have dander and can be a common cause of indoor allergy,” notes Poole.
- Cockroaches.“This indoor allergen is common in urban areas. If you see one cockroach, you can assume there are many more,” says Poole.
The most common sources of outdoor allergens are pollens, and include:
- Tree pollens, which are most common in the spring.
- Grass pollens, which are most common in the summer.
- Weed pollens, which are most common in the summer and fall. Ragweed pollen in particular is the most common cause of fall allergy symptoms.
Another allergen to be aware of is mold. “Mold allergy can be an outdoor or an indoor allergy,” says Poole. It is most common as an outdoor allergy in the spring.
Easy Ways To Beat Seasonal Allergies When The Pollen Count Spikes
If your seasonal allergies are making you miserable this spring, you’re not alone. More than 50 million Americans experience allergies each year. The good news is there are measures you can take to minimize the impact of seasonal allergies.
Seasonal allergies are usually caused by three main types of pollen: trees, grass, and weeds. They’re called “seasonal allergies” because each type of pollen has a season where they’re most potent. Here’s a general timeline of common pollen seasons:
- Some outdoor molds also peak in the fall months
When you’re monitoring pollen counts for your specific allergy, here are 10 ways to cope:
Pollen counts tend to rise on dry, warm, and windy days, so if it’s breezy outside, try to stay indoors.
Pollen counts are highest in the morning and again at night, so if you need to go outside, try to do it when counts are low.
When it comes to seasonal allergies, it’s important to know exactly what you’re allergic to so you can take appropriate action.
“I have patients who come in saying they’re allergic to pets, then we perform a skin test and it turns out they’re actually allergic to oak trees or another pollen the pet is bringing inside on their fur,” says Erin Willits, MD, an allergist and immunologist at Intermountain Alta View Hospital.
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Indoor And Outdoor Allergy Symptoms
Although indoor and outdoor allergies have different causes, the symptoms can be similar. “There is a great deal of overlap between indoor and outdoor allergy symptoms, says Poole. Generally, outdoor allergy symptoms are the itchy, runny, sneezing type. Indoor allergy symptoms tend to be more stuffy congestion and post nasal drip.”
The most common symptoms for both types of allergies include:
- Runny nose
Other symptoms may include headache, asthma, and fatigue.
Equip Yourself To Be Outdoors
If you must be outside during the morning or when pollen counts are high, there are a few steps you can take to reduce your symptoms.
- Shower after youve been outside to get the pollen off your body and out of your hair. If you cant shower, try wearing a cap.
- Wear a pollen-specific facemask.
- Get outside in the evening or after it rains, when pollen count is the lowest.
- If you have allergy meds, take them before you go outside rather than afterwards when your symptoms are already heightened.;
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Have A Designated Pollen Room
Have a “pollen dumping” room in your home. In other words, have an area that you leave your outdoor clothes , and change into a clean and pollen free wardrobe. In this way, you wont be spreading the clinging pollen grains throughout your house. Also, pollen tends to hang onto the hair on your head and body, so a quick shower to rinse away those travelers will go a long way to keep the pollen counts in your home at very low levels.
Secrets For Running Outside With Allergies
Wheeze, sniff, atichoosnot rocket. Just when the joy of putting winter running behind you arrives, so does the dreaded feeling of running with allergies that can irritate even the happiest Spring runner.
A running nose, watery eyes and runners itch can make for a terrible run any time, but during allergy season we often have all three at once combined with difficulty breathing!
Youve never had asthma and now suddenly, youre struggling to find the air, having fatigue and you dont even know that all the pollen in the air is to blame, not your training.;If youre doing everything right with training and recovery, but suddenly feeling more fatigue and headaches it might be time to consider allergies.
A number of studies have shown that we can develop or lose allergies roughly every seven years because of the cycle our bodies go through eliminating and growing new cells.
After years of my own running through pollen itchy skin and sneeze fests, Ive learned a few tricks for running with allergies.
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