Enjoying the Outdoors with Allergies and Asthma Enjoying the Outdoors with Allergies and Asthma
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

The motto of many Americans is “Work hard, play hard” and getting outdoors is one way many people spend their free time. Whether hiking, camping or gardening, allergy and asthma sufferers can manage symptoms by taking proper precautions.

Symptoms, including itchy, watery eyes, a stuffy nose and wheezing, are often triggered by pollen. The most common allergic diseases that flare up due to pollen include allergic asthma, seasonal allergic rhinitis, and conjunctivitis.

In this month’s topic you will:
Learn tips for managing symptoms
Play an interactive game to learn about outdoor triggers
Find tips for Exercise-Induced Asthma
Discover more AAAAI resources for managing allergic disease

Tips for managing symptoms outdoors Avoiding pollen, one of the main allergy triggers, is the best way to prevent symptoms. Here are a few tips:

Stay inside during peak pollen periods – the early morning and late afternoon hours.
Shut the windows and crank up the air conditioner in both your house and car. That will help prevent pollens from drifting into your home.
Use the clothes dryer so any allergens can be filtered out instead of hanging it on the line, where it becomes the filter.
Think about taking a vacation to a more pollen-free area, such as the beach or sea. And don’t mow lawns or be around freshly cut grass; mowing stirs up pollens and molds.
Take shoes and outer layers of clothing off outside to limit the amount of pollen you bring indoors.
Wash your hair before going to bed to remove pollen that could be inhaled while you sleep.
Planning a Camping Trip?

Remember to:

Pack all your medications in the first aid kit.
Bring along ointments and antihistamines to treat potential allergic skin reactions.
Pack non-allergenic foods or provide a list of the foods you must avoid to whoever is supplying the food.
Air out your tent in advance and clean any mold with a diluted bleach and water solution.
Learn more about outdoor allergy triggers that may be lurking in the woods with the AAAAI Camping with Allergies & Asthma game. Click on the picture below to play the game.

Exercise-Induced Asthma Tips

When gearing up for a long hike in the woods, or any form of exercise, keep in mind a few tips:

Always warm-up before your workout
Make sure you gradually warm-up before you start any type of exercise. Your warm-up may include:
10-15 minutes of light stretching of all major muscle groups
3-5 minutes of light jogging

Always cool down after your workout
It is important you cool down after your workout to gradually slow your heart rate and breathing. Your cool down period should be a few minutes longer and may include,
5-10 minutes of easy walking
15-20 minutes of light stretching
On cold days or in the mornings when temperatures are cooler, wear a light scarf to warm and moisten the air reaching your airways.
Try not to exercise during high pollen count days. Be aware of changing weather conditions because this may affect pollen, it can be difficult in certain places and at certain times of the year. Stay tuned to the National Allergy Bureau (NAB) for pollen levels in your area.
Pace yourself and only exercise within your capabilities.
Give yourself breaks in between your exercise routine.
Drink plenty of fluids.
Don’t forget to take your inhaler with you at all times!
Finding Relief

Avoiding allergy and asthma triggers is only part of the solution. Finding relief from symptoms by taking medications that are prescribed by your allergist/immunologist is also very important. Here are some tips:

Ask your doctor if there are medications that you can take before your anticipated exposure to outdoor allergens. Symptoms can sometimes be avoided by taking medication prior to exposure.
Discuss with your health care provider the proper timing of taking your medication before heading outdoors.
Learn more about allergy and asthma medications by visiting the AAAAI Medication Guide.