What about seasonal allergies when we go for hiking? For many, Spring time is the most beautiful one of the year. During that anyone enjoys outdoor activities, observing the nature to bloom with its variety of colors and smells.
At the same season, many suffer from seasonal allergies. These ride wild during Spring, due to the increased levels of pollen from trees and flowers. This is the time of the year where nature gets out of the dormant winter and spreads all her efforts to reproduce and be alive again.
Hiking through nature, whilst having allergies is a tough one. We know. We have been there. Let’s find out how to cope with allergy symptoms while hiking.
Seasonal Allergies: Tips for Outdoors
There are websites for pollen forecasts. Here is one for USA. There are more for almost all countries, i.e. UK, Australia. Weather.com has a service too.
Levels of pollen vary per day; even in different times in the same day. Weather conditions affect pollen density and distribution.
Getting immediately in the hear of “the beast” we present you with a series of tips. Following that we present an additional list with really important advice.
Mowing: Wear a mask. A low-budget one will do fine too.
Is it hot: Then expect high amounts of pollen and plan accordingly? If it is dry weather too, this adds up. Cool, rainy days come with far less pollen. On the other hand, when storms approach then wind tends to stir pollen and spores. That comes with an allergy attack.
Insects: Do not apply deodorants with strong scent, along with shampoos and other products that are like that. Insects will bite.
Air pollution: If there is an alert for such, pollen alert follows along. Avoid outdoors exercise.
When to run: Avoid early morning runs. Move that to night time.
Protect your eyes: Wear sunglasses to keep as much pollen as possible away.
Pets carry things: Pets can carry pollen and other allergy triggering things on their fur. Wash them or avoid letting them run in areas with high pollen concentrations.
Be Proactive: Attack allergies before they attack you, by getting proper medication before the allergy season.
Leaves: Avoid raking leaves (or as said, use a mask).
Ask the doctor: There are medicines with immediate results on pollen allergies. Ask your doctor for this.
Find about your own Allergy
To really know the kind of pollen that really affects and triggers allergy symptoms for you, is crucial.
When you know that it is easier to plan your hiking routes around that information, avoiding areas with increased pollen concentration.
Trees release their pollen from the early days of Spring to those of Summer. Add grass and all other vegetation on top of that, as they do the same from the end of Spring to the beginning of Summer.
The pollen of birch and that of the hazel happens in mid-March when the trees blossom. In the same way other trees do the same:
- Oak (April – May)
- The plane tree (March – May)
- The willow (March – June)
- The lilac (March – April)
- The black pine (May – June)
Be able to identify the trees along your route and know what to meet. For example, when you have allergy with pine trees, then better to avoid areas with lots of them.
Around 50% of people who have Spring allergies are really sensitive to the Parietaria plant, which releases large amounts of pollen in the form of a cloud.
Wild flowers are consider as allergy triggers (there is a misconception about this) as their pollen is heavy and sticky and doesn’t easily get airborne, but rather falls to earth.
Your allergist will help you identify all the things that trigger your allergy. These can be more than plants related.
Your doctor will also suggest a plan to confront them, with the provision of antihistamines.
Discuss your hiking plan (especially a multi-day one) with your doctor in order to get the best pharmaceutical treatment before, during and after your trip or your outdoor activity.
Get High to Avoid Pollen
Prefer the routes that are over the tree line. If you have access to areas with high altitude you will avoid big pollen concentrations by simply climbing higher. In high altitude areas where plantation is less, you have far less pollen.
Pollen is heavier than air, thus it will “travel” towards the lower ground, leaving the higher ones cleaner.
If you plan to camp and weather permits, setup your tent to be against wind.
Camp Near a River or a Lake
If high altitudes are not what you want then camp near water (river or lake).
Doing that, you actually “use” the water as a “collector/filter” of pollen from the air. Pollen flies in dry weather.
Water traps pollen. You can see that in rivers or lakes. Notice the -usually- yellow concentrations near the shore. In pollen heavy days, such looks like a yellow carpet on water.
Brush Off Clothes and Gear
When you can remove pollen from your gear and clothes, especially when you camp outside. Wear a mask when you do that.
If you can do not enter your tent with the clothes you had during hiking. Have a different set for the tent. Remove as many clothes as possible before entering the tent.
Same stands for shoes and boots. Better to wash them after.
Have a nice bath or shower to clean up your hair and body from pollen.
A tip: If you have allergies it is best to have your eyes covered too. A nice pair of glasses does exactly that, on top of UV protection. A surgical mask would be nice to wear too.
Maybe not so good looking while in a forest but… you will judge what matters.
Always have your medicines with you.
Lots of people wait for the Spring season to start getting out again. Just be prepared to cope with your seasonal allergies and fun will continue to happen.
Some people even claim that if you forget allergies, they will forget about you too. Possibly that relates to anxiety which also enhances the impact of allergy symptoms.
Could be true too, but best to be prepared with instructions from your doctor. Read our hiking gear and camping gear posts.
Have fun and also read After Hike Recovery: 10 Essential Tips On How To Ease The Agony.