The mornings are getting less chilly, the day time temperatures are warmer, flowers are popping up everywhere, and the sun is shining a little warmer and brighter! Spring is finally upon us !!! This is truly a terrific time of year to get out and about, unless of course you have seasonal allergies which can be a challenge.
Unfortunately due to changes in our envionment we have a lot more pollen in the air these days! As a result, according to the Centers for Disease Control approximately 26% of adults and 19% of children have seasonal allergies. In addition, according to a study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 80 % of those with seasonal allergies report moderate-to-severe symptoms that significantly impair their quality of life (https://www.jaci-inpractice.org/article/S2213-2198%2816%2930544-X/fulltext). Although we are fortunate to have many treatment options available, we all have to be mindful as allergies and asthma can begin and develop into a problem at any age. Many of us suffer year after year, as I do! Proper management and prevention is important to avoid long term respiratory challenges. So, with some planning everyone can say, "Ah Spring" rather than "Ah-Choo Spring!"
Enjoy the spring and summer in a safe way by following these simple tips:
1. Monitor the weather and stay inside on high pollen days. If allergic to grass and weeds avoid extensive exposure. Stay inside if the grass is being cut and arrange for assistance in the garden.
2. Keep your air conditioning on and doors and windows closed. If you do not have air conditioning seek it out during the day at the library, shopping malls, restaurants, coffee shops, etc! At home change your air filters monthly.
3. Keep it clean! Clean your sheets, floors, furniture, and clothing often. Vacuum regularly! Do not hang laundry outside to dry as this will collect pollen and other allergens! Shower at the end of each day to get any allergens off of your body before bed! Hand washing is also important. Wash your hands and face often, especially after being outside.
4. Protect yourself while out and about! Remember that the highest levels of allergens are in the early am. Try to plan outings after 10 am when possible to avoid peak levels! Wear a dust and pollen mask and sunglasses if high pollen levels and needing to be outdoors. Keep your skin in good condition as excessive dryness can make allergies and rashes worse and even lead to infection.
5. Consider using unless instructed otherwise by your physician - an over-the-counter (OTC) saline nasal spray in the am and pm or at least daily at bedtime as this will help to clear nasal passages of pollen and other allergens that can accumulated over the course of the day.
6. If your pet usually sleeps with you consider having them sleep in another room and avoid having them on your bed as their fur / hair will collect and spread pollen to you!
7. Ensure that your grass is cut regularly as a shorter lawn will lead to less pollen. Keep gutters and downspouts also clean and free of debris.
8. Seek guidance from a medical professional regarding over the counter antihistamines. Some people need a combination of over the counter oral meds along with a steroid or antihistamine nasal spray, or even eye drops routinely. For poorly controlled allergies immunotherapy or allergy shots may need to be considered. Some people benefit from changing their over the counter antihistamine routinely to help with increased effectiveness during the season. No matter what the case may be if you are clearing your throat routinely, having itchy eyes, nasal drainage and more you need to address your symptoms and make a change.
Leaving allergies untreated can lead to more serious medical problems especially if you have another chronic condition such as asthma or COPD. So be mindful and proactive in getting relief for your seasonal allergies so that you can enjoy all that Spring has to offer!