5 tips for managing spring allergies
Are you suffering from itchy, irritated eyes, a sore throat, constant sniffling, sneezing and a runny nose?
Spring allergy season has arrived early this year, with higher than normal pollen counts being reported in many parts of the U.S.
“Many people have been having symptoms going back to early February,” says Dr. Tony Hampton, a family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group in Chicago.
It’s the price we pay for a pretty mild winter, he says, attributing the warmer temperatures to earlier pollination from the trees. Those affected can “reduce exposure by closing windows, using air conditioner, and staying indoors when possible,” advises Dr. Hampton.
If you’re one of the more than 50 million Americans with seasonal allergies, here are some more tips to help limit their impact:
- Embrace spring cleaning – Experts suggests washing pillows, curtains and area rugs at least once per month, and changing your sheets often. Use hot water, which is most effective at removing pollens. Empty closets for a thorough cleaning and check behind storage bins and shoe racks for dust.
- Limit your time outdoors – Pollen counts are highest between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. and again at dusk, so plan your outdoor activities around these times, when pollen counts are lower. And be sure to shower after you’ve been outside to avoid bringing pollens into your bed.
- Take allergy medicine – Antihistamines reduce or block histamine, the chemical in our cells that triggers the allergic response. They can be taken orally, as nasal sprays or as eye drops. But know that they do have side effects, particularly drowsiness.
- Consider natural remedies – For those inclined to avoid drugs, honey, acupuncture and neti pots are all popular alternative treatments to combat the allergy sniffles. “I sometimes recommend Quercetin or Stinging nettles as an over-the-counter supplement which can provide some anti-allergy benefits,” says Dr. Hampton. “However, this is primarily for my adult patients. I do not make such recommendations in pediatric patients.”
- Avoid smoking and other smokers – With toxic chemical and irritants, cigarette smoke often exacerbates symptoms for allergy sufferers. Even particles on the clothing of smoking friends or coworkers can end up in the air of your home or office, so limit your exposure.
Some cities have it worse off than others. Jackson, Miss., Memphis, Tenn., and Syracuse, New York were recently named the top three “2016 Spring Allergy Capitals” by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).
“Whether you live in one of these allergy capitals or anywhere else,” said Cary Sennett, president and CEO of the AAFA, in a news release, “it’s important to work with your health care providers to recognize the elements that trigger your allergies and determine the best treatments to enjoy your life unencumbered by seasonal nasal allergies.”
About the Author
Adam Mesirow, health enews managing editor, is media relations director of Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. Securing high-profile media placements for more than a decade, he loves to tell a good story. Adam earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from the University of Michigan. He lives in Chicago and enjoys playing sports, reading TIME magazine and a little nonsense now and then.
Having spring pollen allergies can be a very difficult thing to deal with. I didn’t realize that there were so many different ways to manage them. I like the idea of using a nasal spray to help manage them.
Reading this article has helped me to understand how to manage allergies during spring time. I really like how you said to take allergy medicine to overcome annoying allergies. I hope that I can find a good allergy doctor that can recommend medications to take to overcome the allergies once they kick in.
Thank you for the reminder to take allergy medicine. After all, it’s there for our use and so not utilizing it during allergy season would be a waste! Since there are so many different options in which you can take it, too, it seems like the most efficient option, too. Thank you for sharing.
I’ve always suffered from allergies but this spring seems to be the worst. Thanks for the advice about embracing spring cleaning and making sure to replace your sheets often. I’ll have to see about finding a doctor to help me get a stronger antihistamine to help me.
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I like your advice to take allergy medicine. The last thing that you want to do is avoid allergy medicine and hurt your health. My brother has very bad allergies, but he doesn’t take anything. Maybe I’ll have to show him this article. Do you have any other tips about taking care of your allergies?
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