5 Things in Your Yard Making You Sick

Spring and summer is a hard time of year for those who suffer from seasonal allergies. It’s especially hard for someone who wants to spend time doing yard work or who just enjoys being outside in the warm weather. What could be in your own backyard that could be making your allergies flare up and making you feel plain miserable? Maybe more than you think. 

Some of the most common environmental allergens that people encounter when they go outside are trees, grasses, weeds, mold, and animals.

1) Trees – Allergies can be triggered by powdery tree pollens that are so fine they can be carried for miles by the wind. Many people assume flowering trees like fruit trees (cherry, apple, apricot, etc.) will be the most likely to trigger symptoms. However, the pollen from those trees is usually stickier and larger and doesn't blow as easily in the wind, so they will be less likely to cause a reaction. Seeing an allergist to have testing done is going to be the easiest way to determine which, if any, tree pollens affect your health. Some of the most common trees that set off allergies around our area in Utah are: Ash, Birch, Box Elder, Cottonwood, American Elm, Juniper, Maple, Mulberry, Oak, Sycamore, and Willow. 

2) Weeds – If your allergies act up primarily on hot, dry, windy days in late summer or early fall, weed pollen is likely the culprit. These particles are at their worst in mid-September when pollen levels are highest. Healthline says, "Certain pollens — such as ragweed — can even survive through the winter and play havoc with immune systems year-round." Some of the most common weed allergens in this region are Ragweed, Alfalfa, Dock weed, Kochia, Lamb’s Quarters, Pigweed, Rabbitbrush, Russian thistle, or sagebrush among others.

3) Grass – Most grasses won't release pollen until they are tall and the air is dry and sunny. So even though they start to grow in early spring, you won't usually feel the effects until late spring or early summer. If it's damp and cold, pollen counts are usualy lower, but as soon as the wind picks up on a dry, hot day, grass pollen can trigger your symptoms even if it's from miles away. The pollen comes from the flower that grows at the top, so often if you keep your lawn short, it won't be a problem, though certain types (like Bermuda grass) can affect you no matter their height. Some of the most common grass allergies are Bermuda, Kentucky Blue Grass, Timothy Grass, and Johnson Grass.

4) Molds – Mold and mildew are fungi that live all around us. They don't reproduce like animals or most plants. They have spores that travel through the air instead of seeds. Certain spores spread with the fog when humidity is high, whereas others only spread in windy weather on particularly dry days. Spores can also be sent into the air if you disturb the source of the mold. Mold allergies can occur over several seasons and can even be year-round, especially if the source is an indoor mold. The number of molds is often astounding, but only a small segment of them cause allergies. Some common molds are Alternaria, Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and Penicillium.

5) Animals – If you have pets or even live around an area with cats, dogs, and horses, you could be experiencing allergies when you go outside. MedicineNet says, “Many people think that pet allergy is provoked by the fur of cats and dogs. But researchers have found that the major allergens are proteins secreted by oil glands in the animals’ skin and shed in dander as well as proteins in the saliva, which stick to the fur when the animal licks itself. Urine is also a source of allergy-causing proteins. When the substance carrying the proteins dries, the proteins can then float into the air.” This means you don’t even have to have direct exposure to the animals to experience symptoms. If your neighbors have animals, they could be causing your allergies just as much as those pollen producing plants in the yards around you. 

If going outside is making you miserable because of allergy symptoms, contact your doctor or see an allergist. If you're in our area, please give us a call or book and appointment with us online. We can do allergy testing to determine the cause of your symptoms and work together on a treatment plan. Let us find ways to help you feel better so you can get back to enjoying the great outdoors as well as your own backyard.

Author
Wasatch Allergy and Asthma

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