Pollen’s in the air…everywhere I look around. Pollen’s in the air…every sight and every sound (of a loud sneeze).
You know the drill, spring is here.
Flowers in bloom, achoo!
The smell of verdant green grass fresh after being mowed wafts through the air, achoo!
You’ve got a front seat view to nature awakening from winter’s slumber, taken in through the foggy lens of bloodshot, watery, itchy eyes.
Not exactly a pretty picture is it?
I mean, sure, all those things are lovely, it’s just that they’re hard to enjoy while blowing your nose, sneezing, and rubbing your eyes 24/7 throughout this season.
…and by season I don’t mean spring, I mean allergy season.
So, how do you know if you’re plagued by pollen?
And, what are some ways to combat allergy symptoms?
How can you enjoy the beautiful sights and scents of springtime while suffering with allergies?
The 411 On Allergies
When referring to the allergies and subsequent symptoms that plague many folks when the weather begins to warm, we’re primarily describing allergic rhinitis, aka seasonal allergies.
People can suffer from seasonal allergies at different times throughout the year, but spring and fall tend to top the list of worrisome seasons.
Symptoms such those listed below are the result of your immune system reacting negatively to a known allergen.
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Sore or scratchy throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Rashes (such as hives)
Asthma sufferers often experience worsening symptoms during allergy seasons as well.
Typical allergens can be found both indoors and outdoors.
- In the spring months, many areas experience greater amounts of rainfall or even snow melting, making mold spores (a common allergen) more prevalent in these damp conditions.
- Budding trees and flowers produce large amounts of pollen creating immune system reactions for many allergy sufferers.
- Trees, grasses, and weeds all cause problematic symptoms and reactions during peak allergy season months.
- Pet dander is a common allergen, and sufferers can experience reactions to this trigger year round, however, pets can pose an added allergy woe if they spend time outdoors during allergy seasons, potentially bringing in pollen and mold spores from their time spent outside (often right into your lap).
So, what’s an allergy sufferer to do?
Tips For Taking On Allergy Season
1- Steer Clear Of Pollen
Avoid being outdoors during times when pollen counts are high.
You can check local weather reports for this information, or even find levels listed on some apps.
As pollen counts are also typically higher in the mornings and afternoons, avoid spending time outdoors during those portions of the day.
Try to stay indoors when it’s windy during allergy season as well. Or, you can also use glasses or sunglasses for eye protection or even a scarf to protect your nasal passages on windy days during the springtime if you must be outside.
2- Don’t Bring Allergens Indoors
If you’ve spent time outdoors during peak allergy seasons, it’s best to change your clothes or shower off once you come inside to avoid transferring typical airborne allergens to your furniture.
If your pets spend time outdoors, consider having a family member brush their fur before you pet them, allow them to spend time on furniture, or even jump up into your lap to avoid any transfer of or exposure to allergens.
As beautiful as the weather is and as heavenly as it smells and feels to open up the windows of your home after being closed up all winter long, doing so in the springtime can mean welcoming in pollen and other allergens that can leave you experiencing symptoms long after you’ve closed your house back up.
Consider using high efficiency air filters in your air conditioning unit in your home, especially during allergy season.
HEPA filters used in specific rooms of your house are also highly beneficial.
Seek to use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove allergens from your floors as well.
And, though this isn’t a filter, consider using a dehumidifier in your home if you live in a damp area as this can keep your home dry and free from mold spores.
4- Antihistamines and Decongestants
Sometimes you’ve just gotta break down and go with some meds.
There are multiple over the counter medications available for use during allergy season to combat symptoms.
Antihistamines can be effective at providing relief for itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose. These can be taken regularly to prevent these allergy symptoms as well.
And, decongestants can provide relief when you’re experiencing nasal congestion.
5- Sinus Rinse
And, if you’d prefer to stay away from the pharmacy, rinsing your nasal passages and sinuses with a nasal rinse or spray can clear these passages of allergens to avoid an immune response, or they can work to clear up congestion as well.
Options include squeeze bottles, neti pots, and other irrigation devices all designed to clear mucus and allergens from your nose.
Nothing beats nutrition when it comes to fueling your body with what it naturally needs to combat sickness…allergies included.
As the symptoms you experience when suffering with allergies are in response to a reaction from your immune system, some of the best foods to eat to combat allergies are those with immune strengthening properties, such as:
- Citrus fruits
- Sunflower seeds
- Probiotic rich yogurts
- Green tea
In children, studies show that those who ate diets rich in whole foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts had fewer allergy symptoms.
Not only what you eat, but what (and how much) you drink can also help to minimize allergy symptoms.
Hydration is essential for health and wellness anyways, but if you’re already feeling stuffy or congested, pushing extra fluids can help to thin mucus to provide relief.
Warm liquids like hot tea or bone broth can especially offer relief if allergy symptoms are overwhelming your body.
Aside from consuming fluids, you can also utilize high quality H2O by inhaling steam which can ease congestion making it easier for you to breathe with allergy symptoms.
8- Avoid Cigs
Cigarette smoke can exacerbate these dreaded allergy symptoms. Avoid smoking or being around cigarette smoke if you suffer from allergies.
9- Get Trigger Tested
Knowing exactly what allergens trigger your body’s immune responses, resulting in those nasty symptoms can go a long way to helping you navigate the season.
Some of these triggers can be obvious, like when your eyes swell and you sneeze up a storm every time you mow your lawn (grass allergy, anyone?), but others may need a little more investigation, and this is where allergy testing can help.
10- Natural Remedies
Like the neti pot or sinus rinse, not all allergy treatment options involve the pharmacy.
There are many natural remedies that have proven effective at treating allergy symptoms such as:
- Local honey: Consuming local honey during allergy season has long been lauded as a proven way to ease symptoms. When consuming honey native to the area where you live, you are essentially consuming small amounts of pollen from this region as well. Over time, this can help your body to become less “triggered” or less sensitive to this trigger.
- Butterbur: Some studies have shown the anti-inflammatory properties of butterbur to be successful at acting as a natural antihistamine in allergy sufferers.
- Stinging Nettle: Often consumed in tea form, stinging nettle is another natural remedy associated with reducing allergy symptoms like runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing.
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