Austin is most famous for being the live music capital of the world but another lesser-known Austin quirk lies in the fact that it is also one of the nation’s seasonal allergy capitals. While the rest of the nation generally only has two pollen seasons (fall and spring), Austin has three — plus an intense winter pollen season.
This abundance can completely upstage an allergy sufferer’s entire outdoor music festival experience or winter hiking expedition. With Austin’s numerous events — marathons, Longhorn football games, ACL — knowing what each month can bring is essential to facing and conquering seasonal allergies symptoms head on.
Mold spores grow year-round on any kind of organic matter (such as grass or leaves) as well as on decomposing materials and trash piles.
Mold is also an allergen that can grow both outdoors and indoors so the safest place may not always be inside.
Allergic reactions to mold vary from person to person but are generally similar to those of pollens and dust.
Avoid taking jogs or walks near areas that are undertaking any kind of yard work because this generally stirs mold spores into the air, which can in turn cause your allergies to act up.
Ragweed. In the fall, ragweed plants are Austin’s most sizable pollinators, growing anywhere from 1-2 feet to as much as 20 feet tall. All produce pollen.
Weeds. The weed pollen counts peak around the beginning of October and begin to dwindle down around mid-November. There are more than 10 types of weeds pollinating during this period.
Austin’s weed pollen season is one of the longest in the country.
Cedar. The winter cedar pollen counts in Central Texas are the highest of any plant in the world.
Mountain cedar pollen season begins in December and ends on the first of March; peak levels hit in January.
Cedar allergy symptoms are some of the most severe, explaining how cedar allergy got its nickname: cedar fever.
Tips for Allergies Sufferers
Figure out exactly what your allergies are. Once allergen triggers are identified, measures can be taken to either avoid or prevent them from affecting your workouts.
Pollen count is highest in the morning (from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.) so, if possible, get your exercise in a little later in the day.
The highest pollen levels occur on dry, hot and windy days. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, going indoors to exercise on those days may be the only solution.
Humidity contributes to mold growth; if you are sensitive to mold spores and the air is humid and heavy, be cautious when going out.
Don’t wait until symptoms arise to begin taking allergy medications. It is recommended that you take your allergy medication a few weeks before the season starts so your body is already prepared for what is to come and your fitness routine won’t be affected.
Always check daily pollen counts before venturing out.
Seasonal Allergies and Exercise
Seasonal allergies can not only make your outdoor exercise routine difficult but, depending on the season and your symptoms, outdoor exercise may seem nearly impossible. Minor allergy symptoms include itchy and watery eyes, sneezing and a runny nose, all of which can make your run or hike more difficult though — with the help of an antihistamine or decongestant—not impossible. More severe reactions (hives, rashes, and flu-like illness) are far tougher to kick when you want your outdoor workout routine fix. Simply listening to your body can help you make the right decision as to whether you should or shouldn’t take that early morning run before work. As long as you’re prepared for and aware of the conditions you’re going into, your workouts don’t have to be affected.