(BPT) - Spring is upon us, and if you have seasonal allergies, you may be less excited about that than most. After all, what fun is finally freeing your face from that scarf if you’re just going to bury it in a tissue? It’s no fun at all, but allergies don’t have to make you miserable.
“The key to surviving spring allergies is knowing what triggers your symptoms,” said allergist James Sublett, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “Because there can be millions of pollen particles in the air, finding allergy relief can seem nearly impossible for some. But by knowing what triggers your allergy symptoms, and how to avoid these allergens, you can be on your way to a sneeze-free season.
Here are tips from ACAAI to help you find relief and enjoy spring.
- The feel of cotton. For allergy suffers, not all clothing materials are created equal. Research shows that when synthetic fabrics rub against one another, they create an electrical charge that attracts pollen, which, as it turns out, is also electrically charged. Natural fibers such as cotton also breathe better, so they stay drier and less hospitable to moisture-loving mold.
- Adjust your workout routine. After months indoors, you can’t wait to exercise outside. However, exercising causes you to breathe more deeply and inhale the pollen that affects your allergy symptoms. If you’re planning a vigorous workout, try to stay indoors and if you’re planning on taking a casual walk, take a nondrowsy antihistamine before you go. Exercise outdoors when pollen counts are at their lowest – before dawn and in the late afternoon or early evening.
- Garden smart. Think your spring allergies are going to force you to quit gardening? Think again. Taking an antihistamine about half an hour before you head outside will help. You should also wear gloves and a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask if your tasks including digging in the dirt, which can stir up pollen. Avoid touching your eyes, and be sure to wash your hands, hair and clothing once you go back indoors.
- Take something a little stronger. Over the counter intranasal steroids (nasal sprays) as well as non-drowsy antihistamines and decongestants can be beneficial for those suffering from mild allergies. However, people suffering from more severe allergies will benefit from seeing an allergist. “An allergist will help you develop an action plan with ways to avoid allergy triggers and determine what treatment is best for your individual needs,” says Dr. Sublett. Many severe allergy sufferers find relief in immunotherapy – allergy shots that help the body build resistance to the effects of the allergen. While there is no cure for the more than 50 million Americans suffering from allergies, immunotherapy is known to modify and prevent disease progression.
- Eliminate uninvited guests. You can make your spring allergies more bearable by limiting your exposure to indoor allergens. Vacuum your furniture, leave your shoes by the door, shower frequently, cover your floors with washable throw rugs and use a dehumidifier to limit your mold exposure. All of these steps will help, and look for a good air purifier with a HEPA filter.
Spring allergies are a fact of life but you don’t have to let them dictate yours. Employ the tips above, and you’ll be able to enjoy the warmer weather without constantly reaching for a tissue. To learn more about how to relieve your seasonal allergy symptoms, visit AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org