Dealing with Spring Allergies
If you’re sniffling and sneezing, here are some things you can do to reduce your symptoms.
Approximately 30% of adults in the United States and 40% of children have allergies. If seasonal allergies are to blame for your sniffling and sneezing, it’s due to the overabundance of pollen in the air from grasses, trees and weeds or mold spores during this time of year.
Allergic rhinitis, also sometimes referred to as hay fever, results from an overreaction of the immune system. This causes the body to attack otherwise harmless substances, such as pollen or mold, similar to the way it attacks germs. That’s why seasonal allergies cause many of the same symptoms as the common cold: nasal and sinus congestion, watery eyes, itchy throat, coughing and sneezing. But unlike a cold, allergies are not accompanied by a fever or body aches.
Tips for Spring Allergy Relief
No one wants to be stuck indoors when beautiful spring weather is summoning you outside. But if you don’t want to rely on prescription or over-the-counter allergy medications or allergy shots to tackle your symptoms, here are some tips that may help you survive the season with fewer symptoms:
- Check pollen counts. Trees typically pollinate in the early morning, so wait until later in the day to head outside. Watch out for windy days when pollen in the air can irritate symptoms.
- Keep windows closed. Put your air conditioner on the recirculation setting to keep outdoor allergens from entering your home.
- Vacuum at least weekly. You may want to wear a dust mask while cleaning to protect yourself from allergens stirred up in the air. Better yet, see if someone else can clean for you.
- Change clothing when you get home. Remove shoes by the door or leave them outside. Change clothes and wash in hot soapy water to avoid tracking allergens around the house.
- Take a shower. Pollen sticks to your body and hair so take a shower to wash it off, especially before heading to bed.
- Try saline. Saline nasal sprays help clear out allergens and can loosen up mucus in your nasal passage.
Nothing is Working, What Next?
Your allergies could be getting triggered by something else besides the season or you may have something else entirely. If your symptoms do not improve with self-help steps, it might be time to see your doctor.
“To pinpoint whether you have an allergy problem and determine the best treatment regimen, your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and habits,” says Randolph Holmes MD, a family medicine physician for PIH Health. “Based on that information and your medical history, he or she may suggest a skin or blood test to help determine if you’re truly allergic to something you inhaled, touched or ate.”
To learn more about allergy and testing services at PIH Health, visit our Allergy & Immunology page.