The birds are chirping, crocuses are pushing up through the barren ground and millions of Americans are heading to the pharmacy seeking relief for approaching spring seasonal allergies.
More than 40 million people are reaching for nasal sprays, popping pills and filling Neti pots to rid themselves from seasonal allergies, hay fever or allergic rhinitis. Whether your allergies are triggered by trees, grass or weeds, mold spores and dust mites, or cat, dog or rodent dander, there are some steps you can take to help you get through the spring without a constant red, runny nose, watery eyes and congested head.
Allergy specialists from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunity (ACAAI) suggest that suffers take the following steps:
- Start early – Don’t wait until you are
sneezing and wheezing to start your allergy medications. Be proactive, the
ACAAI recommends and “at the very least, take medications at the first sign of any symptom as
opposed to waiting until things get really bad."
- Keep the windows closed – Opening windows in your
home or your car allows the plant pollens to get inside. While the breeze might
feel invigorating, and many of us have been taught to let the fresh air blow
away the winter germs, you are allowing the pollen to attach itself to your
surroundings. The wind makes it easier for the pollen
to become airborne, especially on dry days.
- Exercise after dinner – Pollen counts tend to be
higher in the morning. While exercise is good,
save the walk or jog until the afternoon or evening hours.
- Bathe before bed – “Once
you’re in for the night, hop in the shower — even if it’s the second one of the
day — and wash the pollens off,” the ACAAI recommends. It only takes one step
into the great outdoors for tiny pollen
particles to cling to your body. If your schedule does not allow for a quick
scrub during the early evening, then take a short shower just minutes before
climbing into bed.
- See a doctor – If you have moderate to severe allergies, don’t expect over-the-counter medicines to take care of the problem. It’s best to seek a board-certified allergist who can pinpoint your triggers and specific allergies. Instead of guessing, allow a professional to identify the problem so he/she can customize a treatment that will be more effective, the ACAAI recommends.