by Melissa Chichester
You may even feel a sore throat coming on or have a runny nose. Sound familiar? These are common signs of seasonal allergies, which can actually affect people year-round. For many, springtime is when people really start to feel the impact of allergies, and in some parts of the United States, seasonal allergies can begin as early as February. Instead of expecting and dreading uncomfortable symptoms, get proactive and learn some new steps to ease the impact of seasonal allergies.
During the spring, the most common allergies come from mold, trees, weeds, grass, and pollen; however, in the fall months, ragweed and tumbleweed are two of the most common culprits of seasonal allergies. Researching weather reports, pollen counts and knowing when your allergens are in bloom or the most active can help you sidestep contact with them.
Knowing what triggers your allergies is an important step in avoidance. You might think you’re allergic to mold, but it could be something else causing you to sneeze.
An allergist can help pinpoint what you are allergic to by providing a blood test.
The allergist can also make recommendations on prevention and medication to help you relieve symptoms. Learning more about your personal health is a step in the right direction when it comes to combating allergies.
That yearly deep spring clean might have added benefits of making a difference in your allergies. To keep pollen out of the home, keep the windows closed and remove your shoes while indoors. Avoid drying clothes and bedding outside as that can also invite pollen inside. Air purifiers with HEPA filters (high efficiency particulate air) are designed to trap microscopic particles like pollen, pet dander, and dust mites. Ensuring that your furnace filter is clean also helps keep allergens limited in the home. While not always the easiest task as any pet lover knows, vacuuming up pet hair daily is a necessity to keep dander at bay.
Another easy way to keep allergens out of the home is to shower and wash your hair after being outside. It’s easy for pollen and irritants to get stuck to skin and clothes, especially since the moisture of sweat creates the perfect trap for letting those particles linger.
Flushing out your nasal passages with a neti pot is a form of nasal irrigation using sterilized (distilled or sterile water, NOT tap water) water. The flushing results in the removal of allergens and any mucus clogging up the nose, providing some relief during allergy season. The results will help you breathe easier. Neti pots originate from traditional Ayurvedic medicine, and “neti” is Sanskrit for “nasal cleansing.”
Avoiding being outside is one way to avoid allergens, but after being cooped up during the winter, who wants to stay cooped up for another season or two? Luckily, there are actions you can take to protect yourself outside. One of those is wearing sunglasses, which you probably do already! Sunglasses can help keep pollen out of your eyes.
If you love to garden, or while you’re mowing the lawn, consider wearing a face mask to elude breathing in allergens and other irritants.
Wearing a hat helps keep pollen out of your hair and out of the home, as does minimizing time outside during peak allergen hours. Pollen typically hits its peak from noon until midday. It also helps to avoid being outside during windy days.
Being prepared for allergy season before it hits helps you combat those pesky symptoms. If you usually take antihistamines to temporarily relieve allergy symptoms, have them ready ahead of time. Nasal sprays are also commonly used by people with allergies for short-term relief.