10 ways to survive this spring allergy season

Posted on March 12, 2014

2



Last Sunday, we “sprung forward” and a few of us uttered a deep groan – spring is literally in the air, in form of pollen. It’s that time of the year again; noses blocked, eyes watery and crusty, skin dry, and we’re sneezing up a storm. Let’s face it, even though this is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year, it can also be the most miserable for some.

 

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. This year, we’re going to do a few things different. Here are some tips to survive the spring weather:

  1.  Drink lots of water: It is very important to drink lots of water; this is the first step to reducing your susceptibility to allergy symptoms. Not drinking enough water makes the body create more mucus to counteract the dryness caused by allergies. It is advised to drink at least 8 glasses of water daily.
  2. Clean your homes regularly (including your filters):  A clean home has less opportunities for pollutants to trigger your symptoms. Have your carpets/rugs professionally cleaned, and clean windows and doors thoroughly (with bleach if necessary). It is also important to clean/replace filters on humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and air conditioning units. HEPA filters are a good way to minimize allergens. Don’t forget to wash your beddings frequently in hot water (130 degrees Fahrenheit kills dust mites).
  3. Keep windows closed and air conditioners running: Because it is such a beautiful time of the year, most people are tempted to open up the windows to get some fresh air. This is a recipe for allergy disaster. By doing this, the pollen gets into the house and continuously triggers your allergies. It is suggested that you shut the windows, and use the air conditioner instead.
  4. Keep pollen from following you into the house: Change clothes as soon as you get indoors, and take a shower to get rid of all the pollen that you have come in contact with outside your house. Do not re-wear pollen infested clothes before washing them either, they carry your allergens and will perpetually trigger your symptoms.  Don’t forget pets too, they should be cleaned or dusted before coming into the house.
  5. Minimize your exposure to pollutants: This is easier said than done, but if at all possible, stay indoors when the pollen count is highest (which is in the morning between 5am and 9am). Pay attention to the pollen counts on the news or in the paper, and minimize activities such as mowing the lawn, sweeping the sidewalk or going jogging where there is a lot of grass. If you must engage, do wear a dust mask which can be purchase at the OTC section of your local pharmacy. Also take your medications before engaging in these activities.
  6. Stay moisturized: This has more to do with the drying effects of pollutants on your skin which can cause redness, itchiness and in some extreme cases – scales. Avoid long hot showers which withdraw natural oils from the skin and dry your skin even further. A 5 to 10 minute lukewarm shower and a sealing moisturizer such as Eucerin or Cetaphil while the skin is still damp, is ideal for your skin to retain moisture.
  7. Keep your OTC medications handy: This is as easy as walking into your local drugstore or even grocery store. Start with taking one tablet of an Over-The-Counter (OTC) medication such as Claritin (Loratadine), Zyrtec (Cetirizine), Allegra (Fexofenadine) etc. every morning. Benadryl (Diphenyhydramine) is also an option, but it has a drowsy side effect that may interfere with your daily activities. If your nose stays congested, trying using a saline nasal rinse or a Nettipot, and you may also add an oral OTC decongestant pill such as Sudafed PE Pressure + Pain (if you don’t have high blood pressure). Long-acting decongestant nose spray such as Afrin may also be used if there is still no relief, but read the instructions carefully as they can only be used for a few days (usually 3 days) due to the risk of rebound congestion which may make your allergy even worse than where you started. To relieve itchy watery eyes, eye drops can also be purchased over the counter. Be careful to check that the active ingredient is an antihistamine, not just a redness relief agent. The latter only treats the symptoms, instead of the root of the redness.
  8. Get a prescription from your doctor: If OTC medications don’t work; it may be time to book an appointment with your doctor. There are corticosteroid nose sprays such as Flonase (Fluticasone), Nasonex etc. that could be added to your OTC regimen to relieve your congestion.  In extreme cases, oral corticosteroids such as Prednisone may be prescribed.
  9. Consider allergy shots (allergy immunotherapy): If you suffer severe allergies, this may be a good option. A small amount of allergen (that you have been tested to be reactive to) is injected over time in order to build up your immunity.  It is typically given once a week or once a month, but it may take three to five years of allergy shots to build up immunity to the allergen. However, most people get good results if they stick with the recommended number of injections.
  10. Take an allergy vacation: Go somewhere that has a lot less pollen, like the beach. There are usually lots of travel deals around spring time. Go on, live a little! 
Advertisements