There are a lot of reasons to look forward to spring: warmer weather, longer days, the return of plants and flowers, and so much more. But all those beautiful blooms and blades of grass also lead to pollen, which for many people means the return of allergies. If you’re one of those silent suffers who associate spring with the resurgence of allergy season, you’re not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year. And while allergies can’t be prevented, there are a few tricks for preparing for allergy season.
Preparing for Allergy Season
What Are Allergies?
As the CDC explains, allergies are “an overreaction of the immune system to substances that generally do not affect other individuals.” But for most people, allergies are better understood as itching, sneezing, sinus congestion, runny noses, and other pesky symptoms. Allergies have many causes, from foods and pets to pollen and mold. And according to the CDC, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. Preparing for allergy season can help keep those annoying symptoms at bay.
When Is Allergy Season?
For some people, allergy season is year-round. This is especially true for people allergic to mold, dust, or pet dander. But if it’s pollen that causes your allergies to spike, symptoms likely appear in the spring and summer. Pollen allergies can be especially difficult because pollen season can stretch from February into May. And once warmer weather hits, grass allergies arrive.
Can You Prevent Allergies?
Sadly, allergies can’t be prevented, but preparing for allergies can help reduce symptoms. If you’re allergic to pollen, the Mayo Clinic suggests staying indoors on dry, windy days. You can also check online and on your local news channel to find the pollen forecast for the day. If it’s pollen that triggers your allergies, the best time to go outside is after it rains. The cool rain helps clear pollen from the air. You should also avoid going outside in the morning, when pollen counts are at their highest.
Other ways to reduce pollen and mold allergies include the following:
- Close doors and windows in the morning and evening, when pollen counts are high.
- Run the air conditioner in your car and house to help clear the air.
- Shower and wash your clothes after going outside during peak pollen season.
- Use a high-efficiency particulate air filter in the bedroom.
- Clean floors and upholstery regularly to avoid mold or pollen buildup.
- Avoid outdoor activities like gardening or mowing that could cause allergies to flare up.
For many people, preparing for allergy season won’t be enough to prevent symptoms like itchy eyes and a runny nose. But if symptoms do arise, there are a few ways to alleviate them. For starters, the Mayo Clinic suggests rinsing your nasal passages with saline solution. This is a quick and effective way to reduce nasal congestion. If you don’t have a neti pot available, a simple squeeze bottle will do the trick. Just be sure to rinse the device after each use with distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered water and allow it to air-dry.
Of course you might also wish to try allergy medications, like antihistamines and decongestants, which are available over the counter at all pharmacies. Common choices include Allegra, Benadryl, Claritin, Flonase, and Zyrtec. If you aren’t sure which allergy medicine best fits your needs, discuss the options with your doctor.
Take action now so that you can enjoy the burgeoning blossoms and warmer temperatures without falling victim to your allergies. Happy spring!
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