How to Handle Seasonal Allergies
When you’re ready to go out on a spring stroll, you probably pack a few essential items. You might grab a pair of sunglasses, a tube of sunscreen, and a trusty water bottle, in case you get thirsty. You might grab a floppy hat or a light jacket, in case you encounter a breeze. And, if you’re like most people suffering from seasonal allergies, you might grab a box of Kleenex and a bottle of antihistamines, in case you get sneezy or sniffly.
Spring is the prime time to get up and active, but it’s also the time you might feel the effects of seasonal allergies (also known as hay fever, allergic rhinitis, or just allergies).
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, more than 25 million people experience seasonal allergies every year.
Symptoms can range from runny nose to itchy eyes to congestion that won’t seem to stop. For some people, allergies are a hassle, and for others, they’re a seasonal struggle — but with the right treatment, most of your symptoms can be managed. With fewer symptoms, you’ll be well on your way to a happy and healthy spring season.
Read on to learn how to deal with allergies quickly and effectively:
With warmer weather and changing seasons, it can be hard to tell if you’re dealing with allergies, a cold, or a virus. And this year, as COVID-19 continues to persist, it’s more important than ever that you know the difference in symptoms.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), the most common allergy symptoms include:
If you checked off any of these symptoms, you’re probably dealing with allergies. But if you experience others, like fever, cough, or shortness of breath, you might be dealing with something else, like cold, flu, or COVID-19.
Know how to spot the difference and keep yourself safe.
Once you can confirm you’re dealing with allergies, you can look for ways to manage your symptoms. Start by staying up-to-date on local pollen counts. Pollen counts change from season to season, but they are typically highest in the spring.
They are also higher in the mornings rather than the evenings, and they decrease throughout the day. During the warmer months, though, you can expect to see higher pollen counts all around.
Low pollen counts fall within a 0-2.4-point range. Low-medium counts fall between 2.5-4.8. Medium counts fluctuate between 4.9-7.2. Medium-high counts range from 7.3-9.6, and high counts range from 9.7-12.
When you know the pollen count in your area, you can take the necessary precautions to keep yourself safe. To get the most accurate allergy forecast, tune into your local news or visit Pollen.com.
When pollen counts are at their highest, try to limit your time outside so that you can minimize your symptoms. To do this,
As you try to reduce your triggers, don’t forget to reduce your exposure to certain foods. Seasonal allergies are a result of pollen, not food, but the chemical makeup of certain foods can cause your already-existing allergies to act up even more.
In fact, 1/3 of people with seasonal allergies have cross-reactions to certain foods.
According to WebMD, foods that can provoke symptoms in allergy sufferers are bananas, cucumbers, zucchini, sunflower seeds, and chamomile tea. So if you’re struggling with symptoms, try to eliminate trigger foods from your diet and see if it makes a difference in your allergies.
When it comes to allergies, outdoor air isn’t the only thing you have to worry about — as pollens can get into your home and wreak havoc. In order to reduce your risk, make sure that you take the right steps to keep your living area clean and allergen-free.
For one, you can use air conditioning instead of open windows to bring cool air into your home. You can use high-efficiency particulate (HEPA) filters to filter out allergens from the air. And, because allergens thrive in hot, humid environments, you can invest in a dehumidifier to dry out the air. If you have carpet, you can regularly vacuum in order to suck up stray pollen and keep the air clean.
If you take the right approach, you can make sure that you’re protected from pollen in and out of your home.
Even with the right prevention strategies, you’ll probably want to tackle your allergies head-on. In this effort, your best bet is to find the right over-the-counter allergy medication. Take a trip down to your local independent pharmacy and scan the selection of medications, according to your symptoms. While there are many options available, you’ll probably find one of 4 different types of medications:
If you have any questions about these medications (including how, when, or why to use them), consult your pharmacist. They can help you find the right product for your symptoms and get to feeling better faster.
If you’re looking to supplement your medication, try out a few home treatments. According to Healthline, these are the best ones:
For some people, over-the-counter medications and home remedies are enough. But if your symptoms continue to persist, it may be time to reach out to a doctor to consider other options.
When you schedule an appointment, your doctor may test you for specific allergens in order to identify your triggers and find a more personalized solution. They may also suggest you try allergy shots (allergen immunotherapy) to build up your tolerance to certain allergens.
Over time, these injections can reduce your immune system’s reaction to allergies and help you manage your symptoms more effectively.
If you’re like millions of Americans suffering from seasonal allergies, you need a plan of action to tackle your symptoms and stay healthy this spring. Call on the help of home remedies, OTC medications, and your local pharmacist and physician to help you get through the season. With these tools by your side, you can kick allergies to the curb and get back to enjoying the weather.