Asthma Capitals 2018: Pollen

In the AAFA's Asthma Capitals 2018 ReportDownload PDF, AAFA looked at eight risk factors that can affect asthma rates: povertylack of health insurancepoor air quality, pollen counts, long-term control medicine usequick-relief medicine usesmoking laws and access to specialists.

Substances that cause allergies (allergens) can trigger asthma. If you inhale something you are allergic to, you may have asthma symptoms. This is called allergic asthma.

Pollen is a common allergen that can cause allergic asthma. An allergist can confirm if you have allergies. They can do this with a skin or blood test.

If pollen is an asthma trigger for you, you can reduce your exposure to pollen. These include:

  • Limiting outdoor activities when pollen counts are high
  • Keeping windows closed during pollen season and using central air conditioning with a CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® filter
  • Bathing and shampooing before bed
  • Changing and washing clothing after outdoor activities


“Spring started early this year – In February – which means I have a longer season of suffering. Everything around me was blooming – I was driving, and it all hit at once and started with shortness of breath and then I really started to struggle to breathe,” shares Kylie Williams of Miami, FL (overall #83 on Asthma Capitals). “I had a severe asthma attack – the worst I’ve ever had in South Florida.”

Florida has been hit hard with the impacts of climate change. Recent severe hurricanes exposed people to an increased allergen load – mold grew rampant after Hurricane Irma. Debris collection in the state was stalled when Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, shifting much of the relief and collections efforts to the island. With recovery still going on in Texas from Hurricane Harvey, Florida faced a shortage of personnel equipped to collect the debris and repair homes. Rotting debris became a considerable source of mold as it littered communities in the months after Irma. And many homeowners have struggled to find contractors to repair damage, allowing mold to thrive even more in the humid climate.

“It’s really aggravating. Everything I want to do here in Miami is outdoors – the allergies take away from my life because I can’t do the things I want to when my allergies and asthma flare. Exercise – want to do it outside but can’t. Going to the beach – want to do but can’t. Festivals, concerts, the list goes on. I’m young and want to socialize,” Kylie shares. “My friends will invite me to outdoor restaurants, and this even impacts whether I can eat out with my friends. Do I want to hang out with friends, or do I want to breathe?”

Allergies and asthma not only affect social and emotional well-being, but also physical and mental health, leading to frustration and grief. “When the pollen is bad, I can’t breathe, my nose is so runny it’s embarrassing, and my eyes are gougable,” Kylie, age 28, said. “I want to rip my eyes out of my face. I know it sounds vulgar, but it’s how I feel. And I know there are other people with allergies that know exactly what I’m talking about.”

High pollen can often send those with allergic asthma indoors. Shari Duncan of Detroit, Michigan (overall #16 on Asthma Capitals), has allergic asthma triggered by pollen. High pollen in Michigan can make her asthma flare.

“When the pollen gets to flying, I turn on the air conditioner and keep the windows up,” Shari says. “Sometimes I have to miss work because I can’t step out the door. When the pollen gets really bad, I just don’t go out. Period.”

Allergen Control

AAFA can help you find products and services more suitable for you. The asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program sets high standards, and then scientifically tests products to see if they meet those standards. Only products and services that pass every test will receive this mark:

Certified Asthma & Allergy Friendly