Flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, birds are chirping and unfortunately, most people are sneezing. It’s that time of the year when everything is in picturesque full bloom, yet for those of us with allergies, it’s difficult to enjoy. It seems like every year the pollen gets worse – leading to runny noses, watery eyes, and itches you just can’t scratch. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, approximately 81 million Americans in 2021 were diagnosed with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever). This condition is an allergic reaction to pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. This type of rhinitis occurs mainly in the spring and fall.
For those who suffer from these allergies, you know that they can make you feel miserable with all the sneezing, coughing and congestion. Fortunately, there are some tips you can follow to get you back to “stop and smell the roses.”
- Be cautious of when you’re going outdoors: If you’re planning to spend time outside, there are certain times of the day that won’t trigger your allergies as much. The best time to go out is after a storm when pollen is cleared from the air. On the other hand, days that are breezy and dry can enhance your allergies as pollen levels increase and blow around in the air.
- Keep your windows closed when you can: Everyone loves a fresh breeze but having your windows open may cause more harm than good, especially in the evening when pollen levels are at their highest. Any pollen or dust getting blown into your house can trigger your sinuses. Instead, you’ll be much better off in a dry environment with air conditioning. Remember to also clean your air conditioner filter regularly to avoid any trapped dust and pollen.
- Monitor your home humidity levels: Indoor humidity levels should be balanced at 50 percent. Humidity levels higher than 50 percent can encourage mold and dust mites that can trigger allergies. On the other hand, when the humidity level is too low, the dry air can irritate your nasal passages. To find a balance, invest in either a humidifier or a dehumidifier based on your environment.
- Keep the pollen off of you: Avoid pesky pollen lingering around. If you’re doing lawn or garden maintenance, it’s recommended to wear a mask to avoid inhaling any irritating particles, as well as goggles to keep your eyes protected. Once you’re back inside, take a shower and wash your clothes. It’s also a good idea to avoid hanging any laundry outside as pollen can stick to the surface.
- Manage your symptoms with medicine: Many over-the-counter medications are available to help soothe any mild allergies. Prescribed medications are also a solution for those with more severe allergies. Allergy medications fall into different categories such as antihistamines, nasal sprays, and decongestants. A complete list of medications used to treat allergies can be found in the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology Drug Guide. Internal Medicine physician Christine Fruth, DO, says, “Be sure to check with your physician before beginning any over-the-counter medication to self-treat your seasonal allergies. Some of these can interact with other medications and/or exacerbate some negative side effects, i.e., decongestants worsening blood pressure etc.”