5 tips for managing spring allergies

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 is in full swing, 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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.

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About the Author

Adam Mesirow
Adam Mesirow

Adam Mesirow, health enews managing editor, is manager of public affairs at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove. A media relations specialist with more than seven years’ experience securing high-profile media placements, 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.