Spring is here and warmer days are just around the corner, but despite the better weather in most parts of the country, it also brings with it something that millions of people suffer from: spring allergies.
It’s Just a Runny Nose, What Could Go Wrong?
Every year, spring means sneezing, watery eyes and a runny nose for around 35 million people around the country. Usually, the culprits for seasonal allergies like this are mold and pollen- small and almost invisible particles that, when inhaled, trigger an allergic reaction.
While these may seem more like an annoyance for most people, the symptoms of seasonal allergies can be big trouble for people with asthma and can complicate other health issues.
So, What Can You Do?
While trying to avoid pollen during springtime (especially after a long and harsh winter) is completely unrealistic, there are a couple of ways you can minimize your exposure to it.
1. Visit the doctor
Ask an allergist to test you so you know what exactly you’re allergic to. With this information, you’ll know when to take action before the pollen triggers a reaction from your body. Allergy shots can also help in making your body more resistant to pollen allergens.
2. Keep an eye on the numbers
There are various sites online that keep track of pollen counts for different areas of the country and a variety of allergens. During times that pollen counts are high, you can plan your outdoor activities around these forecasts and keep indoors when they’re too high.
3. Protect yourself even when indoors
If you plan on staying home during high-pollen days, shut the windows and switch the air conditioner on to keep the pollen in your home low. Keeping surfaces vacuumed will also help in maintaining low pollen exposure in your house.
4. Change the sheets regularly
When washing your sheets and rugs, use hot water and don’t hang them out to dry. Drying your sheets outdoors will just expose them to pollen, making a bad situation worse. If you must air-dry, do so indoors.
5. If you must, have a plan when going outdoors.
For most people, staying indoors for the whole duration of pollen season would be impossible. When you need to go out, make sure to prepare to minimize the effects of pollen allergies.
- Wearing a face mask will help keep pollen from entering your body.
- If you need to do an outdoor activity, do so when pollen activity is low. Mornings, between 5 and 10, are usually the worst and afternoons are when pollen counts are usually low.
- Pollen counts are reduced during and soon after periods of rain so consider running errands at these times.
- While sunglasses won’t completely protect your eyes from pollen, they can greatly reduce your eyes’ exposure to it.
6. Keep it from following you indoors.
After a trip outside your house, pollen can cling to your footwear, clothes and hair. Change your clothes as soon as you get home and wash your hair or cover your hair with a hat when outside. Don’t forget to leave your shoes at the door and use footwear that specifically for indoor use.
Don’t forget to consult your allergist and take your medications as prescribed! Most people take their antihistamines when the symptoms kick in, which is usually too late for them to be effective.