Here are ways experts recommend keeping the invisible invaders at bay.
At home, limit exposure to pollen and outdoor mold spores in your house by keeping all doors and windows shut (even at night) and the air-conditioning on. "There's a fivefold decrease in pollen particles if you keep your windows closed," says Dr. Tim Sullivan, a professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. A high-efficiency electrostatic filter or air-cleaning system on your central air conditioner, or a portable High-Efficiency Particle Accumulating (HEPA) filter in your bedroom (or other rooms where you spend a lot of time), can trap mold spores and pollen.
When driving, keep the car windows up and put the air conditioner on recirculate mode so air doesn't come in from the outside. Because mold loves the dark, moist air in your car's air-conditioning system, run the air for a few minutes before you get in and go, says Dr. Donald Pulver, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Rochester. This will blow out any mold spores that may be growing.
Most seasonal allergy sufferers are also allergic to indoor mold, dust mites, and pet dander. To reduce mold, buy a dehumidifier and put it in the basement to reduce dampness. Just make sure you change the water reservoir regularly to prevent mold growth on it. Dust mites -- microscopic insects that feed on dead skin cells -- love carpets and bedding. To lessen their impact, wash bedding in hot water and install hardwood floors in your home.
As for pets, try to keep them outdoors. If that's not an option, keep them clean and brushed. Some studies have shown that a weekly bath reduces airborne levels of pet allergens.
Continued on page 3: Outdoor Tactics