Seasonal Allergies are Nothing to Sneeze at!
Fresh flowers, warmer weather and Cardinals’ baseball won’t be the only things making an appearance in the coming spring months. An estimated 45 million Americans will be sneezing, wheezing and itching — thanks to seasonal allergies.
According to American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, more than 30 percent of adults and up to 40 percent of children suffer from seasonal allergies. If it seems you feel miserable every time the trees bloom, don’t give up. Taking preventive measures and knowing the triggers of symptoms can help those with seasonal allergies find relief.
- Monitor pollen and mold counts. The warm breeze brings airborne mold spores and pollen from grass, trees and weeds. Airborne pollen is the most common cause of seasonal allergies, better known as “hay fever” or “allergic rhinitis.” Track the daily weather, pollen and mold reports to gauge the counts. For pollen allergy sufferers, try to limit excessive outdoor activities on hot, dry and windy days.
- Mask it outside. When gardening or mowing the lawn, wear gloves, protective glasses and a mask to filter out pollen. You can choose a disposable paper mask or one for tougher allergies, such as one with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-rated 95 filter mask. You won’t worry so much about what you look like wearing added “equipment” when you realize how much better you feel afterward.
- Wash your clothes after outdoor activities. As soon as you come inside, take a shower, wash and rinse your hair, and toss your clothes in the washer to remove unwanted pollen and mold. This stops them from landing on your pillow and bed sheets at night; such close exposure to these allergens, all night long, contributes to allergy sufferers feeling poorly in the mornings. As tempting as it is, don’t line-dry sheets or clothes; pollen adheres to your linens.
- Wipe off pets. If you have pets that frequent the outdoors, rinse or wipe them off prior to letting them back inside. Animals’ coats can bring in unwanted allergens as well as trap pet dander. This is especially important if your pets sleep in your bedroom.
- Improve indoor air quality. Regularly vacuum your home, including furniture, and use a vacuum with double-bagging or a HEPA filter. Leave shoes by the door to avoid tracking in dirt through the house. Use a dehumidifier to keep indoor air dry or use a portable HEPA filter in your bedroom.
- Take something. Medications often work better before symptoms take hold, and the severity of reactions may be lessened. Effective and safe choices for relief are available over-the-counter or with a prescription, and these include: saline, steroid or antihistamine sprays; oral antihistamines and decongestants; and eye drops. See your primary care doctor or an allergist about treatment options that will work best for you.
Rachel Dickerson, MD, is a St. Luke’s Hospital physician at Chesterfield Valley Internal Medicine & Pediatrics, LLC and is accepting new patients of all ages from newborns to seniors. To schedule an appointment, call 636.685.7724.