Spring brings with it beautiful blooms in flower gardens and in trees, but, for many of us, spring also ushers in annoying seasonal allergies. While we’re enjoying the warmer weather and colorful landscape, we’re also enduring sneezing, runny noses, teary eyes, and congestion. Hay fever, or what physicians refer to as allergic rhinitis, has the potential to make us miserable. However, there are ways to combat seasonal allergies and enjoy the outdoors this spring!
First, pollen is one of the chief causes of seasonal allergies. So, being proactive against this element of spring can really help to prevent the misery of hay fever. Each day before leaving home, check out the local levels of pollen. You can find this information on local news and radio stations, or you can check the internet (some apps will report the pollen count each day). Once you’ve determined the pollen count, you may need to start some allergy medications before heading out for the day, particularly if the pollen count is expected to be high. If possible, stand indoors during the hours when pollen count is highest, in the early morning.
If you suffer from issues with pollen, then don’t fall to temptation to keep doors and windows open at night. Although one of the fun parts of spring is airing the house out, you’ll also be letting pollen in.
Furthermore, you’ll want to keep indoor air as clean as possible. Again, don’t open the windows for cooling the house; use the air conditioning inside and in your vehicle. You may want to look into purchasing high-efficiency filters as well as HEPA filters for your A/C unit. Be sure to clean the filters regularly as well. Consider investing in a dehumidifier, which can keep the air dry and prevent mold. If you own and clean with a vacuum, then be sure to purchase a HEPA filter that fits the machine.
Generally, you’ll also want to forgo hanging laundry outside. Pollen can come into your home when bringing in this laundry, especially if the wind has been strong. (Wind tends to assist pollen in traveling; so you’ll want to stay indoors in the event of a windy day.) If you have work to do outdoors, be sure to remove the work clothes and take a shower as soon as you come indoors. Although you may enjoy yard work, pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, and working in a vegetable garden can aggravate your allergies. It might be a good idea to wear a face mask while carrying out any of these outdoor chores.
There are several over-the-counter remedies for seasonal allergies, and your ENT may recommend a particular brand for your allergic rhinitis. Oral antihistamines, nasal sprays, and oral decongestants may all be necessary to combat seasonal allergies. You may want to consider beginning an OTC antihistamine that you’ll take every day during the spring; talk with your ENT about whether this is right for you.
You can also purchase a kit that allows you to rinse your sinuses. Some patients make their own irrigation devices and utilize salt and baking soda to ensure their nasal passages are clear.
If none of these home remedies or preventions work, you may need to visit your physician for an allergy skin test. Some patients will have to take allergy shots once they figure out what their “triggers” are. With testing and desensitization treatments, you can enjoy the outdoors during the spring, once again!