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How to Love Gardening Even When It Makes You Sneeze

How to Love Gardening Even When It Makes You Sneeze

By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES, for MDVIP

Spring is finally here and you’re breaking ground on that new vegetable plot. Or maybe you’re planting begonias and celosia in the front yard from some summer color… and that’s when the sneezing hits.

Whether you’re a seasonal gardener or a passionate amateur horticulturist, working outdoors often means having to deal with allergies — from tree pollen in the spring to ragweed pollen and mold in the fall. Sneezing, watery eyes and a runny nose can certainly put a damper on any activity. But there are some steps you can take to minimize allergies while outdoors. 

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Guard Yourself Before Gardening

One of the easiest ways to fend off allergies is to take allergy medicine before gardening. If your doctor prescribed a drug or recommended an over-the-counter medication, follow the instructions. Some allergy medicines are fast acting. Others may take a while to help. But even the fastest acting allergy drugs take an hour or more before they provide relief.

Wear long sleeves, hats, glasses, socks, gloves and face masks to help reduce pollen exposure. And check the weather. Postpone gardening on breezy days that stir up pollen or on days when pollen counts are high. Keep in mind the pollen count is generally lower in the morning and on cloudy days. You also can make your life a little easier by getting pollen updates from the National Allergy Bureau.

Take Precautions While Gardening

If you have allergic asthma, the most important step you can take is to recognize the onset of symptoms. If you have asthma, it’s important to take any maintenance medications prescribed by your physicians. These drugs are designed to reduce exacerbations and are typically taken daily. And they can really help stave off allergy-related asthma attacks. Telltale signs and symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest tightness. Talk to your doctor if you experience any of them.

Do your best to not touch your eyes or face while gardening. It’s a sure-fire way to activate allergens.

When possible, work with allergy-friendly flowers, shrubs, grass and trees and avoid those notorious for triggering allergies. If your allergies are set off by mold, choose fillers like rocks or gravel over mulch, as mold tends to grow on it. And remember to close your windows and doors while working outdoors to prevent allergens from drifting into your home.

Wash Off Allergens After Gardening

When you’ve finished gardening, store your tools outside and then wash off pollen and other allergens off your clothes and accessories. Try to avoid tracking those allergens into your living spaces. Then jump into the shower.

You don’t have to handle your allergies and asthma on your own. Work with your doctor. They may order allergy tests and help you create a plan to help you control allergies, as well as discuss which medications are best for you. Don’t have a doctor? Consider partnering with MDVIP. MDVIP doctors have the time to work with you to help you develop a personalized wellness program. Find a physician near you and begin your partnership in health.


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