Spring is a magical time full of blooming flowers, soft breezes, and trips to the park. For some, it can be a total nightmare when you suffer from Spring allergy. In fact, spring isn’t a nice time for the approximately 58 million Americans who suffer from allergies, also commonly known as hay fever.
The major culprit for spring allergies is pollen, according to WebMD, “When pollen grains get into the nose of someone who’s allergic, they send the immune system into overdrive. The immune system, mistakenly seeing the pollen as foreign invaders, releases antibodies — substances that normally identify and attack bacteria, viruses, and other illness-causing organisms. The antibodies attack the allergens, which leads to the release of chemicals called histamines into the blood.” When that happens, cue the long list of allergy symptoms, which include a runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing.
Usually this means it is time to take anti-histamines to keep the sneezing and other allergy fits at bay, but taking medication can make you drowsy and have other unwanted side effects. Before you rush out to the pharmacy, you can try these tips first:
Spring and pollen
If you have seasonal allergies or hay fever, tree pollen can trigger symptoms in the late winter or spring. In many parts of the U.S., “springtime allergies” start as early as February and last until summer.
The National Allergy Bureau’s website has daily ranking of allergens, including seasonal tree pollens, grasses, weeds, and outdoor molds. Stay indoors when pollen levels are high or very high for those that you’re sensitive to.
If you really must go outside, be mindful of the weather and time of day. In general, pollen counts are highest on warm and breezy mornings and low on cool and rainy days.
While pollen counts are typically at the highest point during midday and afternoon hours, so schedule your activities accordingly and avoid going outside during those times of day.
Pollen allergies trigger when the pollen gets in your eyes, nose and mouth, so take some measures to cover up. Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen and other irritants. And, maybe even a face mask to keep the pollen out of your nose and mouth. It may not be a fashion statement but at least it keeps you from having a sneezing fit.
Shower and wash your hair at night
Whenever you’ve been outside day pollen can stick on your hair and clothes. You unknowingly bring them inside your home and you’d be exposed to the allergens. Change your clothes right after you get home before crashing on the bed or couch. Shower and wash your hair to remove the pollen from your hair and skin before going to bed.
Studies show that seasonal allergy sufferers had a more extreme reaction the day after performing a stressful task.
When you’re all stressed out, your body releases hormones and other chemicals, including histamine, the powerful chemical that leads to allergy symptoms. While stress doesn’t actually cause allergies, it can make an allergic reaction worse by increasing the histamine in your bloodstream.
Also it has been found that stress increases the levels of cortisol in the body. This in turn affects the immune system, resulting in an increased allergic response. Reducing stress through yoga, meditation, getting enough sleep or just soaking in the tub, can decrease the likelihood of having allergic responses to the environment.
Spring clean your sinuses
Allergies start when pollen find their way into your nose. So, obviously you should do your best to keep sinuses clean. Keeping your nasal passages clean helps get rid of headaches and stuffiness. Use a Neti pot, or some other sinus irrigation system to rinse away pollen and allergens.
Get a doormat
The Spring air is already loaded with pollen and allergens. Don’t track it into your home. Many people are in the good habit of taking their shoes off at the front door. The rest of us stomp through our apartments, tracking in all sorts of pollen and allergens as we go. Keep pollen out by taking your shoes off at the door, or at least consider getting a doormat to catch some of the dirt. Look for a synthetic one, since natural mats tend to break down, attract mold, and make everything worse. Your apartment will be cleaner, and your sinuses will thank you.
Run the air conditioner at home
Leaving doors and windows open is a good way to invite allergens and other irritants inside your home. Avoid using window fans to cool rooms, they can suck pollen indoors. Turn on the dehumidifier. You should keep humidity levels below 50 percent to kill dust mites, but above 30 percent to avoid making your home too dry.
Keep air conditioning and furnace filters fresh
It’s important to change filters every three months and use filters with a MERV rating of 8 to 12. A MERV rating tells you how well the filter can remove pollen and mold from the air as it passes through and have your heating and air-conditioning units inspected and cleaned every six months.
Give your home a thorough spring cleaning
We haven’t stressed this enough, keep your home pollen free to reduce exposure to allergens. A little spring cleaning goes a long way to keep you from sneezing. Pollen gets in your home every time you open your windows and doors, track your shoes inside the house, or don’t strip down your clothes when you come inside.
Aside from pollen, some people are allergic to dust and dust mites too. Simple solution, tackle the dust: Clean behind the bed and dressers, under the bed, and on the top of the ceiling fan. Always use a damp cloth; dry cloths just spread the dust around. Strip your bed. Wash everything, including the comforter or blankets, in 130°F water. Wipe down the mattress with a damp rag. Bedroom items that can’t be washed, such as pillows, mattresses and box springs, should be covered in tightly woven, hypoallergenic dust-mite covers. Stuffed animals and throw pillows should be eliminated or kept to a minimum. Make sure you keep the house clean by vacuuming regularly.
Follow these tips to keep spring allergies at bay, but always remember to seek advise from your doctor about your other options in controlling allergies and taking medication.