Don

Don’t Open the Windows!

Today, the Hubster and I were driving in the car, and he (wait for….) opened the windows in the car! Gasp!

What’s the big deal?

Well, the whole family has allergies (trees, flowers, grass, bushes, cats, dogs, horses – you name it!) If it’s alive, we’re allergic to it. Life is pretty miserable for our family all spring –  and all summer. Month after month, after month.

The last few days have been pretty horrible for my daughter and I, and she sent a text asking which pollen levels were elevated.  The results for our area were:

  • Oak – Very High
  • Mold – High
  • Maple – Medium
  • Grass – Medium

She said, “Well, that explains it.” She (like her brothers) have environmental allergies that are so severe that they all have had 5 years worth of allergy shots (immunotherapy.)

Even after allergy shots, they still have allergies – just not as bad as before. Instead of sneezing 30 times in a row, they may only sneeze 3 or 4 times.

But there are things we have learned over the last 18 years to make our life-less miserable during allergy season. One of those is that we don’t open the windows during pollen season. Sure, it lets in a nice breeze – but it also lets in pollen.

Contaminants like pollen can get in the car

Did you know that pollen and other contaminants can still get in the car – with the windows closed? Yep. Most cars have a cabin air filter (this is not to be confused with the oil filter.) The cabin filter cleans the air that goes INSIDE the car (or cabin.) AAA has an article called “Changing the Cabin Air Filter In Your Car: It says:

“The types and sizes of contaminants a cabin air filter can trap varies with the specific filter design. However, a general list includes dirt, dust, leaves, twigs, insects, soot, smog, mildew, pollen, mold, spores, fungi, bacteria, germs, rodent droppings and other undesirable debris.”

“A cabin air filter is more than just a way to improve air quality; it can also affect vehicle safety. The Filter Manufacturers Council estimates that 40 million Americans suffer from allergies caused or made worse by airborne particulates. By removing those contaminants, a cabin air filter can reduce or eliminate symptoms such as sneezing, blurred vision, runny nose, and headaches that could distract a driver and result in a collision.”

Wow! So, when Hubster opened the car windows, I was hit with a blast of air and pollen. My allergies have been so bad the last few days (sneezing, itchy eyes, running nose, etc), that it triggered an asthma flare. So, even though I use a controller inhaler morning and night, I still have still needed my rescue inhaler a couple of times a day over the last few days.

One of my asthma symptoms is a twitchy throat. My asthma flare-ups will sometimes start with a twitchy throat, then progress to a cough and a tight chest. Sure enough, the twitch started after he opened the windows in the car. Then the cough followed, and then the tight chest.

Some ways to combat triggers

So, I’m home (with all of the windows closed) and am headed to the shower. We have found that it helps us to shower before bed during pollen season.

In fact, Allergy & Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA), has an infographic that says,

“Did you know….that showering  before bed removes pollen?”

Try it and see if it makes a difference for you!

And change your car’s cabin air filter. Don’t know where it is? Most car companies have owner’s manuals online, so you can look it up and find where it is. Or most places that change the oil on a car will also change the cabin filter for an extra charge.

I didn’t know about cabin filters until the mechanic showed us the cabin filter he pulled out of my daughter’s Honda and it was very black. He asked if we wanted to replace it? Uh, yes! She has noticed a big difference now that she has a clean filter!

What’s your helpful hint for today?

  • Keep the windows closed
  • Shower before bed
  • Change your car’s cabin filter

Happy breathing!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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