For many seasonal allergy sufferers, the pleasure of winter ending is definitely mixed — when the weather warms up, pollen and hay fever is sure to follow. Swapping out snow and rain for itchy eyes, runny noses, sinus pressure and poor sleep is certainly no walk in the park. It doesn’t take a genius to know taking over-the-counter allergy medicines can be helpful during peak pollen season. But your efforts on other fronts can make a real difference in controlling allergy symptoms and help minimize the need for medication. We’ve put together some tips and tricks to help you show your allergies who is boss this season.
Track pollen counts
Sign up for daily alerts from sites such as pollen.com to keep an eye on counts. This will help you to better manage your activities, planning the most optimal times to be outside, and when it's best to shut yourself up inside, closing all doors and windows, to keep pollen from blowing in. Pollen counts are often lowest very early in the morning and late in the afternoon, so if you want to be outside, those times are often best. Counts surge when days are warm and windy.
Cleanliness is your friend
Spring cleaning takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to allergy management. If you've been outside for any length of time, taking a shower and changing clothes will help protect against walking around with pollen on your body all day. In a similar vein, regularly vacuum and dust your home, making sure to include walls and windowsills. Keep in mind that cleaning could cause a temporary spike in allergies if you’re kicking up a lot of dust.
Use washable mattress and pillow protectors to keep your sleeping environment as clean as possible. During high pollen months, it's good to wash your sheets once a week.
Filter while you work!
If you purchase an air purifier, make sure it's a HEPA room air cleaner rated with a Clean Air Delivery Rate. For homes with central air conditioning, make sure filters are changed every three months. Those filters should be marked with a MERV rating of either 11 or 12.
If you have any gardening, lawn mowing or outside work to do, it’s best to wear a filter (mask) while you work to keep your air as pure as possible.
Home remedies and doctor visits
Many with seasonal allergies swear by nasal irrigation — gently squirting a mild saltwater solution through the nose. This helps clear pollen or spores that are triggering your symptoms, along with mucus. Some experts suggest that nasal irrigation works as well at relieving allergy symptoms as antihistamines. The bottles and packets of the solution are available at well-stocked drugstores and big box stores like Costco.
Talking to a primary care physician to pinpoint your true symptoms and fine-tune your allergy strategy accordingly is the best tip for keeping allergies under control. Wearing a mask to mow the lawn or avoiding a run during the day won’t actually improve your allergies if dust mites or the neighbor's cat were the true culprits.
Keep these tips and tricks in mind this spring to keep your allergies under control. Have a question about your symptoms we didn’t answer? Chat with a 98point6 physician now.