If you’ve had them, you know spring allergies are the worst. You are sitting inside with itchy red eyes and a headache. Not to mention coughing and sneezing your head off rather than basking in the beautiful sunny weather. It just doesn’t seem fair, but you are definitely not alone. Recent studies found that nasal allergies affect about 50 million people in the United States, and that the number of seasonal allergy sufferers is continuing to grow.
What Causes Allergies?
In many areas of the United States, spring allergies begin in early February and last late into the summer. Grass, pollen, and mold are the most common triggers of seasonal allergies, and unfortunately, rainy spring and summer seasons mean more pollen and much more sneezing to come. But don’t think moving across the country will solve your problems.
Ways to Manage Allergy Symptoms
Allergens are virtually everywhere. The good news is there are ways to manage your seasonal allergies without taking medication. Here is what you can do.
- Be vigilant about monitoring pollen and mold counts: Pollen levels tend to peak in the morning hours, but this may vary depending on the weather. When the day is windy and warm, pollen counts surge. Weather reports on the radio or television often include this information during allergy seasons, and counts can also be easily found online. Stay inside during peak pollen periods (early mornings) and if possible avoid outdoor exercise activities at these peak times.
- Allergy proof your living space: Windows closed and shoes off! Allergy proof your living space by keeping windows and doors shut at home ( and in the car!) in the spring. Wind carries allergens inside and the tiny particles will stick to surfaces. As well, having yourself and guests leave shoes at the door really helps with tracking less allergens into your home.
- Shower and change! Every time you leave your home for work or play, you are being exposed to allergens. These tiny particles will stick to your hair, skin, and clothes, so rinsing off in the shower, changing into a new outfit, and washer-drying clothes instead line-drying clothing outside can really help wash away allergens.
- Keep it dry! Dry is better, especially in your bathroom. Humidity breads mold, and mold is one of the biggest allergy triggers, according to government health website MedlinePlus. Using a dehumidifier can keep air drier. Be aware of not leaving damp towels in the hamper, running faucets, or moldy shower curtains. Having a fan in your bathroom during a shower or bathe can also be helpful.
- Wear a mask! When you do outdoor chores, wear protective masks . If you can’t avoid raking, gardening, or mowing the grass, try to wear a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask that will block 95% of small pollen particles. These are available at many drugstores and pharmacies. If you can, stay clear of barns, wood piles, hay, and stagnant water.
- Eat more fruits and veggies! An apple a day keeps the allergies away? A 2011 study found children who eat a lot of fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts have fewer allergy symptoms. Try adding more grapes, apples, tomatoes, and oranges to your child’s diet- they were found to be particularly effective!
- Drink more water! Constant sneezing and nose blowing can make you dehydrated and give you headaches. Getting hydrated is an important and easy way to help combat seasonal allergies.
- Use a nasal rinse over the sink: A nasal rinse can help relieve nasal allergy symptoms. You can buy a nasal rinse kit or just making one yourself using a neti pot or bulb. Mix roughly 1/2 teaspoon salt with a pinch of baking soda in 1 cup of warm distilled or sterilized water.
- Stop stressing! Stress compromises your body’s ability to cope with allergies. Making time for yourself can help with the management of your allergies.