You’ve already got many reasons to check the weather forecast in the morning: It informs your outfit choice for the day, helps you avoid getting drenched without an umbrella, and (let’s be honest) allows you to participate in everyone’s favorite small-talk topic. But if you’ve got seasonal allergies, the weather report may be your best friend.
The most common culprit for seasonal allergies is pollen from trees, grass, and ragweed, according to Clifford Bassett, MD, an allergist at NYU Langone Health. Tree pollen is most prevalent from late winter to early summer, grass and weed pollen is more common from late spring through the end of summer, and ragweed pollen becomes more of a nuisance in the late summer and fall, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
In addition to checking the predicted temps and chance of rain, you should also scan your weather forecast for the pollen count. “A pollen count is a measurement of pollen levels in your area,” says Dr. Bassett. “A pollen-counting device will count certain pollens, and there’s a certain criteria for low, medium, and high.”
Pollen counts tend to go up when the weather is windy, sunny, and dry. These are prime conditions to spread pollen around the air—great for the ecosystem, but bad news for your sinuses.
On the other hand, pollen counts usually drop when the weather is wet, drizzly, or cloudy, according to Dr. Bassett. This dreary weather may not help your mood, but it does minimize the amount of pollen flying through the air and triggering your allergy symptoms.
Those general weather characteristics can help you predict how your allergies will be that day, but checking the official pollen count will give you a more accurate gage on the conditions. “Every pollen is different and every day is different,” says Dr. Bassett.
Just as you plan your activities based on the chance of rain, you can do the same based on the pollen count. Here are tips to use the pollen count to your advantage and minimize seasonal allergies, according to Dr. Bassett.
Pretreat with antihistamines. If you need to be outside on a high-pollen day, take antihistamines or other allergy meds before you go outside to reduce your allergy symptoms.
Use pollen-reducing techniques such as wearing a hat, avoiding hair gel (it’s a pollen magnet!), and washing your glasses after coming inside from a high-pollen day.
Adjust your plans according to the pollen count. For example, a day that’s predicted to be windy is probably not the best day to go for a run or have a picnic in the park. Do your gardening and yard work on days when it’s overcast or a little drizzly. On high-pollen days, exercise indoors if possible. (Try this six-minute arm workout or 10-minute yoga routine for beginners at home.)
For more allergy tips, here are common allergens to look for in your home and what happens to your body during an allergic reaction.