It’s finally the time of year you’ve been waiting for – sunshine, blooming flowers, and lots and lots of pollen – ahchoo! If you find yourself sneezing and coughing during certain times of the year, you may have seasonal allergies.
In the United States, spring allergies typically begin in February and last until the beginning of the summer (1). Spring allergies are also referred to as hay fever or allergic rhinitis (3). If you aren’t sure if you have spring allergies, here are some symptoms to look for (5):
· Itchy nose, throat, eyes, sinuses, or ear canals
· Runny or congested nose
· Watery eyes
· Postnasal drip
· Ear congestion
· Dark circles under your eyes
· Wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath.
There’s one main thing that causes spring allergies: pollen. Common pollens include trees, grasses, and weeds (5). It’s best to avoid these if you know you have spring allergies or if you are unsure but know you tend to sneeze, wheeze, or cough while around these pollens.
Tips to Reduce Hay Fever Symptoms
You don’t have to suffer by sneezing your way through the spring. Instead, here are 4 tips to help you reduce your spring allergy symptoms to make your springtime more bloomy and less gloomy.
1 - Be Aware of Outdoor Conditions
If you know you have spring allergies, it is a good idea to keep an eye on the pollen count before doing outdoor activities. During the beginning of allergy season, pollen count is typically lower in the early morning which makes it the opportune time to work in the garden, mow the lawn, or do any other yard work (4). If you still find yourself struggling with symptoms while doing these activities, it might be beneficial to wear a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask to help reduce the amount of pollen you are breathing in (1). Also, your local weather channel should have a pollen count that you can check each day. If you notice the pollen count is high, you can take preventative action by taking an allergy medication before heading outside for the day (2).
2 - Keep Indoors Clean
Having an air purifier or changing your air filter on your furnace and air conditioner can help reduce the amount allergens in the air inside your home. Using a high-efficiency filter and following regular maintenance on your furnace or air conditioner is important to ensure allergens are getting filtered out of your home. It is also a good idea to run a dehumidifier in your home to keep the air dry so allergens and molds cannot grow. Cleaning your floors, counter tops, and hard to reach areas such as ceiling fans regularly can also help reduce the number of allergens. When vacuuming your floors, try using a HEPA filter to help eliminate allergens (2). Wearing a mask while you clean your home can help protect yourself from allergens getting thrown into the air (5). Keeping your windows and doors closed can also reduce the number of allergens that enter your home.
3 - Keep Yourself Clean
After you’ve spent time outdoors, it is a good idea to take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes to ensure allergens have been cleaned off (1). Pollen tends to stick to material things, such as clothing and hair, so washing your hair daily can help remove pollen. Washing your bed sheets once a week can be beneficial to keeping the allergens off your body as well. If you hang your laundry outside to dry, try using a dryer or hanging laundry inside. Wearing a hat and sunglasses while outside may also help reduce the amount of pollen entering your eyes and getting in your hair (3).
4 - Take Medications
Continuing to take your prescribed allergy medication is very important during allergy season. Although you can’t eliminate contact with pollen and allergens, taking your medications will help reduce symptoms. Even if you are feeling well, be sure to use your medication as prescribed and is always a good idea to keep quick-relief medicine with you. Other medications, such as over-the-counter products, can be beneficial to treating spring allergy symptoms. If you aren’t sure what medication to take, talk to our pharmacist today about what product is right for you.
You can also try immunotherapy if you are looking for a solution with long-term effects. Immunotherapy is a solution administered by doctors that aims to desensitize people to their allergies (3). Doctors typically use this treatment on people who experience side effects to over-the-counter medications or on those who do not see any benefit from those types of medications. Immunotherapy can be given via allergy shots for 3-5 years to help build resistance to the allergen, or by sublingual tablets for up to 3 years to treat certain types of allergens (3).
Home remedies could also help during allergy season. Some remedies include steam inhalation to open nasal passages and a saline rinse to relieve congestion. When doing steam inhalation, be sure to use caution to avoid burning the skin if using hot or boiling water. Saline rinses can be sold as over-the-counter products, as prescriptions, or can be made at home. If making a homemade solution, use 1 quart of water, 1.5 teaspoons of canning salt, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda (2). If you have never used a slain rinse, talk to our pharmacist about whether it could work for you.
Springtime is a great time of year. Now that you have a better understanding of how to relieve your springtime allergy symptoms, you can spend this time enjoying the weather outdoors. If you have any questions about allergy products, be sure to talk to our pharmacist to see what products can work for you.