Avoid the Sniffles While Gardening

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

So, spring is upon us. That means more to people who live in northerly areas than those, say, in Arizona and Texas. Nevertheless, for people all across Canada and the U.S., springtime rings the bell for warmer weather and the onset of allergy season.

Spring is also the time for gardening. This leisure activity is quite healthful in itself, proven to relieve stress and help keep the body fit. (That dirt doesn’t dig itself; that wheelbarrow doesn’t move itself.) There is just something about digging in earth and getting up close and personal with plants.

Allergies, however, can make gardening far less pleasurable for those susceptible to pollen and other environmental allergens. It’s hard to be passionate about flowers while suffering frustration such as red, itchy eyes, nasal congestion and sneezing. Because there is one place gardening can’t take place, and that is inside. Away from the pollens.

A release from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAI) has focused on this issue. Experts there say that gardening during a high pollen count can put many people at risk of severe allergic symptoms. Certain steps can be taken to help the situation, including avoiding the pollens, taking medications and even considering allergy immunotherapy. An allergist or immunologist can suggest what plants are most troublesome for allergies and what sorts of things gardeners can do to limit allergic reactions.

A useful thing to know is the type of plants, flowers and trees that are known to produce less pollen than others (or none at all). For those who suffer allergies, know that cherry, daisy, geranium, iris, tulip, rose, snapdragon, magnolia, cacti and dahlia are all less likely to produce pollen. And it may be a good idea to avoid planting or being near these types of vegetation, known to release a ton of pollen: pine, maple, oak, cedar, ash, timothy, saltgrass and cottonwood.

Here are some tips to reduce allergies while gardening (courtesy of the AAAI):

  • Get a skin test at an allergist’s office to see which plants you are particularly sensitive to.
  • There will be less pollen on cloudy days with little wind.
  • When working with plants, don’t touch your eyes or face.
  • If you are really sensitive, wear a mask to prevent inhalation of pollen spores.
  • Minimize skin contact with gloves, long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Store gardening tools and clothes outside.
  • Take a shower after gardening or working around the yard
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