Open Accessibility Menu
Hide

Welcome Spring Sneeze-Free

Welcome Spring Sneeze-Free

Welcome Spring Sneeze-Free

Strategies to shoo seasonal allergies

Spring is now in full swing, which means it’s high season for hay fever along with a smorgasbord of other airborne allergens. For the some 35-million Americans who suffer from pollen allergies, this is hardly a newsflash, as they annually contend with the sneezing, sniffling, coughing, and itchy/watery eyes that accompany this season of renewal.

Pollen and your Immune System

Much of the blame for spring being an unwanted allergy-fest can be traced directly to pollen that’s emitted by trees, grass, and weeds. The goal is to fertilize other plants, but – along the way – grains of pollen often take a detour and instead take up residence in unsuspecting humans.

For those who are allergic to pollen, these tiny grains trigger an immune-system alarm. Sensing a threat, the immune system swings into action, sending antibodies on a mission to attack the pollen invaders. The ensuing battle results in the release of histamines – a bodily chemical that causes allergy sufferers to have itchy eyes, runny noses, and stubborn coughs. Spring’s pollen count varies by day and geographic area; as the pollen count soars, so too do allergy sufferers’ symptoms.

Spring Strategies

Since hibernation isn’t an option, spring allergies can’t be avoided entirely. There are, however, steps you can take to keep the seasonal suffering to a minimum.

  • Monitor the pollen count – The amount of pollen in the air is actually measured, and this is important information for allergy suffers. Local weather reports often provide the daily pollen count, or you can visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s National Allergy bureau website – http://www.aaaai.org/global/nab-pollen-counts – to find out the pollen levels in your area.

When the pollen count is very high – it generally peaks in the morning – stay indoors as much as possible. If you have to head outside, wear glasses or sunglasses to keep pollen away from your eyes. If gardening or mowing the lawn is a must, allergists recommend wearing gloves and a pollen mask (available at drug stores). Then shower to rinse off pollen and wash the clothes you wore outside. And, during pollen season, don’t hang clothes outdoors to dry. On high-pollen days, also keep windows and doors shut.

  • Preempt symptoms – When high pollen counts are projected, start taking allergy medications before the onset of symptoms. Nonprescription medications include:
  • Antihistamines – Designed to decrease sneezing, runny nose, and itchy/watery eyes. Among the popular brands are Alavert, Allegra Allergy, Claritin, and Zyrtec Allergy.
  • Decongestants – Relief from nasal stuffiness is their goal. Oral formulations include Sudafed and Afrinol. There also are decongestant nasal sprays, such as Afrin and Neo-Synephrine.
  • Combination meds – There additionally are medications that combine an antihistamine with a decongestant. Brands in this category include Claritin-D and Allegra-D.
  • See a specialist – If over-the-counter medications aren’t effective, schedule an appointment with an allergist. Prescription oral medications – as well as prescription nasal sprays – are available to keep seasonal allergies in check. Allergy shots, which involve receiving regular injections containing small amounts of the allergen causing symptoms, are another option. The goal being for your body to become tolerant of the allergen. Rather than getting shots, an alternative is ingesting the allergen – usually daily – in a pill that dissolves under your tongue.

Embrace these strategies, and spring can be a sneeze-free season.

Sources:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/04/20/surviving-spring-allergies.aspx

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hay-fever/in-depth/seasonal-allergies/art-20048343

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/features/5-ways-to-beat-spring-allergies

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/spring-allergies