You know the scene. It’s a beautiful spring day out, sun is shining, flowers are in full bloom, yet you’re stuck inside to avoid bouts of sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose.
According to WebMD, allergies are an abnormal response of the immune system. People who have allergies have an immune system that reacts to a usually harmless substance in the environment. This substance (pollen, mold, and animal dander, for example) is called an allergen. Each season brings about a different set of allergens, but the most common spring allergens come from airborne pollen and blooming plants and trees.
Allergies are a very common problem, affecting over 20 percent of Americans. Seasonal allergies can ruin your day if caught unprepared. People with severe seasonal allergies often have anxiety about spending time outside. The smell of fresh cut grass, weeds, tree pollen or molds may leave you feeling miserable in the spring. Trees usually finish pollinating by late spring so grass and weeds will plague allergies into the summer.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid allergies and live a healthier life, both physically and mentally.
Avoid high-pollen areas – You can find out the daily pollen count in your area by watching your local weather forecast. The higher the pollen count, the more you should try to stay inside. Keep your windows closed and consider using an air purifier.
Consider the weather – Breezy days move pollen, so the effects will be worse. The days after a rain are best because the water washes away the pollen and causes a drop in the pollen count.
Keep your house clean – Dust where pollen can collect and vacuum the rugs often. Keeping the air clean (also by changing air vents regularly) is the best way to avoid allergens in the home.
Take a shower – Experts say that it helps to wash your hair after coming in from outside since pollen can linger in hair.
Regulate the humidity – Keep the humidity in your house between 30 and 50 percent to prevent the growth of dust mites. Wash rugs and bedding in hot water often to discourage mites.
If you simply cannot prevent coming into contact with allergens, there are many steps you can take for relief.
Many allergy-sufferers find relief in over-the-counter medications like Claritin or Zyrtec. Antihistamines, decongestants and nasal sprays can all help ease your allergy symptoms. While you can get these easily at any drugstore, be sure to check with your doctor before taking any new medications.
If over-the-counter medications aren’t helping, a doctor may prescribe you stronger medication or allergy shots. Allergy shots expose your body to gradually increasing doses of the allergen until you become more tolerant. Although they don’t work for everyone, some people find that allergy shots can stave off symptoms for up to a few years.
If you’re looking for a more natural remedy, people have had mixed results with butterbur, quercetin, stinging nettle and nasal irrigation (like a neti pot).
Take these steps to help deal with allergies and you’ll be on your way to a happy, healthy season!
Annie Johnson is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University from Topsfield, Mass. She is a communications major with minors in journalism and film studies. She aspires to be a writer and editor at a niche media outlet, particularly in pop culture or entertainment. When she’s not writing or watching movies, she enjoys traveling, running and taking long naps.