Spring allergies are here….get relief!
Spring – it’s here! Warmer days. Baseball. Patio dining. Buds on the trees. And, the grass is starting to take on that familiar tint of summer green. This is great news for most of us, but if you’re an allergy sufferer, it can also signal the start of a long-term battle to keep your allergies in check.
Wait, is it allergies or a cold?
As opposed to the common cold, where symptoms come and go pretty quickly, allergy symptoms last much longer, and involve nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, sinus headaches, wheezing and coughing.
What to do?
HCMC Allergist, John Sweet, MD, indicates there are very practical methods to reduce your symptoms of spring-time allergies.
“I tell people that the first steps are really focused on allergen avoidance. Look for ways to reduce your exposure to the plants or pollen sources that cause an allergic reaction. Often this may be a specific type of plant, tree or grass pollen.”
When it gets nice outside, people are tempted to open all the windows and get fresh air inside the house – that can be a bad idea for allergy sufferers. That fresh air brings all the pollen right indoors, where we spend most of our time. A better idea is to keep the windows closed and use an air conditioner.
Another helpful way to avoid allergies is to follow the pollen counts in your area. When the counts are high, consider indoor activities. Also, trees tend to release their pollen early in the morning. If you are planning to go outside for an activity, like a walk or jog, planning these activities for later in the afternoon or evening might be a better time.
If you do spend time outside, change your clothes and wash them when you get inside the house. Clothing can attract and retain a lot of pollen and bring it into your house.
If you take over-the-counter medications, take them before you feel miserable. It will do you wonders.
“If you have pets, have them sleep somewhere other than you bedroom. People don’t like to hear that, but the reality is we spend about a third of our lives in the bedroom – that’s a tremendous amount of exposure to pets that can make you allergies flare,” says Sweet.
Other options include:
- Purchase hypoallergenic bedding and wash it once a week
- Use a HEPA air filter in your bedroom (or other areas throughout your home)
- Change your air conditioner filters often
- If you have nasal congestion, use a Neti pot
Many people find symptomatic relief from over the counter medications. Nasal sprays with a steroid concentration can be very effective (Flonase® and Nasonex®). As well, antihistamine pills (Allegra® and Zyrtec®) are often helpful.
“Most people will find relief with these medications. But, if your allergies are severe, or you are just plain tired of taking medicine, allergy shots may be an option. Through allergy testing and a series of injections, we can help your body build up immunity to the allergens and achieve long-term relief – a cure, in a sense, for allergies,” states Dr. Sweet.