Spring is here! Along with budding flowers, warmer temperatures and longer days come runny noses and itchy, watery eyes for the millions who suffer from seasonal allergies.
Allergies occur when the immune system misidentifies typically harmless substances, like pollen, as a threat and tries to fight them off. The congestion you experience is your own body’s immune system battling what it perceives as a danger.
Seasonal allergies can make you miserable. With a few helpful tips and proper preparation, we hope you can enjoy the great outdoors.
Monitor pollen counts.
If you’ve had spring allergies in the past, expect difficulties around the same time of year. However, the severity of the allergy season can vary each year and depends on where you live.
Websites such as Pollen.com or The Weather Channel will tell you the pollen level in your ZIP code. Get in the habit of checking these regularly so you can anticipate when spring allergies may be severe.
When you know when pollen counts will be high, you can be on the defensive. Read on to find out how.
Start your allergy meds early.
No matter where you live, you can start your allergy meds a little early. Starting ahead before you anticipate it happening really can help because the allergy medicine prevents that immune response. If you can get ahead of it, you’re in better shape.
Avoid being outdoors.
While it may be tempting to throw open the windows or enjoy the great outdoors as the weather warms, stay inside when pollen counts are high. For example, if you typically exercise outdoors, take your workout indoors. And if you do go outside, be sure to rinse off any pollen when you come back in.
Take a shower as soon as you get indoors to reduce the amount of pollen you’re bringing inside.
Keep windows and doors shut as well.
If you have pets, wash them down more frequently if they’ve been playing outside, especially on high pollen count days.
Change the filters and get an air purifier.
Be sure to change the air filters in your home regularly, especially during allergy season, to help remove allergens in the air you breathe. If possible, purchase a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) air purifier. HEPA technology forces air through a fine mesh that traps harmful particles, such as pollen, that other filters may recirculate back into the air of your home.
Vacuum often with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.
Rinse your sinuses.
Use a nasal saline rinse, like a neti pot can help ease symptoms. To use a neti pot effectively, tilt your head to the side and allow the solution to go up your nose and come out the other nostril without getting into your ears. Be sure to use distilled or sterile water to avoid potentially serious infections.
Talk to your doctor.
If you’ve tried avoiding allergens and are taking over-the-counter medications but still can’t find relief, talk to your doctor. You may need blood work or skin tests to find out exactly what allergens trigger your symptoms. Your doctor also may recommend a series of allergy shots, which is individually targeted to your needs.
Wishing you a sneeze-free spring!