If the start of the new season means welcoming more sneezing and sniffling, then you are likely suffering from allergies. As many as 40 to 50 million people in the United States are affected by allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
So, welcome to the season of allergies. It is those sneezy, itchy-eyed, congested months from early spring to late fall when trees and grasses, bombard the air with pollen. For the last several years there have been record-breaking levels of seasonal pollens, making it essential to have an allergy survival plan in place. Allergies can take a toll in many aspects of your life. Stay one step ahead and you can have an allergy-free existence. First, you need to know if you even have allergies so that you can customize a successful allergen avoidance and management plan.
Seasonal allergies occur mainly with pollen so it comes from plants, flowers, weeds, grasses and trees. If you have pollen-related allergies, they’ll appear when it is in the air. Classically, it comes from trees early in the spring, so in April and May. Then in May, June and July, it’s the grasses that are at their worst.
Year-round allergies, or perennial nasal allergies, usually come from indoor allergens such as, dust mites, animal dander, cockroaches, molds and feathers. You may have symptoms occasionally or throughout the year, depending on what kind of allergies you have. Your symptoms occur when your body’s immune system identifies these various allergens as intruders, and tackles them by releasing several chemicals, one of which is histamine. Histamine is what causes most allergy symptoms. Although there is no cure for most allergies, the situation is far from hopeless.
Get the right treatment to control your seasonal and indoor allergies, so you can breathe better day and night and have better quality rest. Allergies can make you feel horrible and tried. It’s time to break the cycle, and get treated successfully so you can feel better. Hopefully, you won’t even need that extra cup of coffee anymore, just to get going.
Here are some allergy survival strategies that might be helpful if you are an allergy sufferer:
- Determine if it’s really allergies: The sudden swing from cool to warm weather can make it hard to tell an allergic reaction from a cold or virus, particularly if you don’t usually get seasonal allergies. Suspect allergies if your symptoms include clear mucus, rapid sneezing, itchy ears and eyes, and if your symptoms last more than 10 days. If your runny nose, red watery eyes and nasal congestion are accompanied by a fever, sore throat and a hacking cough, you probably have a cold or virus. See a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and a treatment plan.
- Try antihistamines and intranasal steroid sprays: For some allergy sufferers, a great option for relieving nasal congestion and reducing inflammation around the nose and sinuses are intranasal steroid sprays. These sprays decrease inflammation within the nasal passages, and relieve nasal allergy symptoms. Because the steroids only enter the nasal area, there are no issues with systemic problems often seen with steroid use. Antihistamines include nasal spray, oral pills, liquids, & eye drops. These can be great for relieving allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, and itchy nose or throat. They work by blocking histamines. Most antihistamines and steroid sprays are available without a prescription. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting any medication, especially if you are on any other medications, as they may not interact well.
- Give salt water a go: Some allergy medications can make you feel tired and foggy. Some people are simply not a fan of how these medications make them feel. Try a saline nasal rinse (either with a neti pot or a spray), which helps clear allergens like pollen from your nasal membranes, minimizing symptoms. A neti pot is a ceramic or plastic pot that looks like a cross between a small teapot and Aladdin’s lamp. Be careful to only use saline packets in your neti pot. Never use table salt. Research has shown that using saline irrigation can really help to alleviate allergy symptoms, either in addition to medications or on its own.
- Kick off your shoes and work clothes as soon as you get home: Don’t drag allergens throughout your home, where they’ll continue to cause your symptoms to act up. Remove your shoes outside the door and throw your clothes in the hamper and change into something else.
- Clean, clean, clean: Try cleaning frequently and keeping clutter to a minimum. Plastic covers for pillows and mattresses help keep dust and other allergens from accumulating. Remove extra items, like throw pillows, from the bed and wash your bedding every 7 days to help ease allergy symptoms as well. Keep air ducts clean to reduce dust in your home.
- Use an air purifier: Using an air purifier in your home helps reduce allergens, too. Consider a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter or an electrostatic precipitator. They can help clean pollen and mold from the air.
- Avoid outdoors in the AM: If possible, avoid outdoor activities in the morning, when pollen count is at its highest.
- Start your allergy treatment early: See an allergy specialist for simple, fast, reliable allergy tests so you can get relief.