Allergy reports are publications that show pollen levels in a person’s area. As pollen comes from a broad spectrum of plants, the reports may include details about the current top sources.

In hay fever, pollen exposure can cause symptoms such as a runny nose and sneezing. Also, asthma can involve increased sensitivity to pollen, so exposure to it may trigger an attack.

Checking daily allergy reports and taking steps to limit pollen exposure can help someone manage their symptoms.

Keep reading to learn more about allergy reports, how pollen can affect people with allergies or asthma, and how to manage weather-related allergy symptoms.

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Allergy reports are publications of pollen levels, which vary with the weather, season, and location.

Pollen is an allergen, a substance that provokes allergy symptoms in some people. It is tiny seeds that come from flowering trees, plants, grasses, and weeds. Pollen levels indicate the amount of pollen in the air on a scale from 0–10, with higher numbers indicating greater pollen counts.

Various sources — such as government agencies and commercial research institutions — offer the public allergy reports and related information. Below are some examples:

The above sources differ somewhat in the information they offer. Some reports characterize the pollen counts as low, moderate, or high. Aside from providing the current level, they may also forecast levels for the following day or days.

Some, namely the Allergy & Asthma Network, provide allergy and asthma indexes instead of an allergy report.

An allergy index reflects a combination of plant growth stages and weather factors that increase pollen levels. An asthma index is a combination of weather factors that can trigger asthma. In both indexes, higher numbers indicate worse conditions for allergies or asthma.

As pollution may affect allergies and asthma, a resource for the air quality index — such as AirNow — is also helpful.

Learn more about allergens throughout the seasons.

Pollen can cause the below allergic reactions:

  • Hay fever: Also known as allergic rhinitis. Hay fever occurs when pollen enters the body and the immune system mistakenly interprets it as something to attack. This causes the release of chemicals that produce a runny nose, sneezing, and congestion. It affects as many as 60 million people in the United States.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis: Pollen and other allergens can cause this condition, which involves inflammation of the lining of the eye. Symptoms include itchy, red, watery eyes. It affects up to 7 in 10 people with hay fever.
  • Asthma: Individuals with asthma may have increased sensitivity to pollen. Exposure to pollen has an association with asthma attacks and more hospital admissions for respiratory conditions.

Pollen is typically higher in the warmer months, which can cause symptoms in people with seasonal allergies. However, some plants disperse pollen throughout the year.

Regardless of the season, weather can influence allergy and asthma symptoms in the following ways:

  • Humidity: Humid air makes it harder to breathe. This can trigger asthma and allergy flare-ups because moist environments foster increased mold and bacteria growth.
  • Cold, dry air: This can cause air passages to narrow and spasm, which may worsen symptoms.
  • Hot weather: This can negatively affect air quality and cause the pollutant ozone to rise to dangerous levels. Ozone irritates the breathing passages and can make breathing more difficult for a person with asthma.
  • Changing weather patterns: The altered barometric pressure accompanying changing weather may make breathing more difficult for people with asthma.
  • Thunderstorms: Winds from a storm can blow pollen everywhere and trigger symptoms.

The Allergy & Asthma Network provides the following tips for symptom management:

  • Keep an eye on weather and air quality: An app or weather forecast website can alert someone to changes that may affect them. Such changes include pollen count, air quality index, temperature, humidity, and changes in barometric pressure.
  • Wear a mask when working outdoors: This can limit exposure to mold spores when mowing the lawn or gardening.
  • Maintain steady humidity levels indoors: Using air conditioners, dehumidifiers, and humidifiers can help prevent airway inflammation.
  • Limit outdoor exercise when necessary: Exercise is very beneficial for health, but when the air quality is poor, or the weather has a negative effect on breathing, it is better to exercise indoors.
  • Cover the mouth and nose with a scarf in cold weather: This humidifies and warms the air before breathing it in.
  • Take prescribed asthma medication: This measure — as well as following other doctor’s advice — can help control asthma.

Additional recommendations from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security include:

  • Shower immediately after spending time outdoors to wash pollen off the skin.
  • When weather conditions increase pollen, keep windows in the house and car closed.
  • Brush off pets if they have been outdoors to prevent them from bringing allergens indoors.

Allergy reports provide local pollen levels and often details about current plant sources that contribute to these levels. Since pollen exposure can cause symptoms in those with hay fever and asthma, monitoring the reports offers a means of managing the conditions.

For example, if someone needs to mow their yard, they can use the reports to schedule the task for when pollen counts are lower. The reports can also guide a person in when outdoor exercise is likely to cause difficulties so that they can plan on indoor exercise instead.