Springtime is a welcome change, with warmer weather, sunny days and beautiful flowers. Unfortunately for people with spring allergies it means the return of pollen and symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, postnasal drip, and red irritated eyes.
Spring allergies are the result of pollen from trees, which can start pollinating anytime from January to April. They can also be secondary to grass, which occur in spring and summer.
When pollen is in the air it can land on your skin or in your eyes, nose, or lungs and cause allergic reactions.
What you can do to reduce your exposure?
First know the pollen count. A great way to stay up on daily counts is to go to Pollen.com and sign up for daily pollen email alerts. Now with this information in hand limit your outdoor exposure on the days with the highest pollen counts. If you have to go out try and avoid the early morning hours between 5am and 10am as these are the highest counts of the day. If you insist on gardening wear a mask. (It will give the neighbors something to talk about.)
Next, keep the pollen out of the house! Keep your indoor air clean. Remove your clothes and wash promptly, in addition make sure to shower off after coming inside to avoid spreading pollen around the house. Keep the windows closed and use the air conditioning. The worse thing you can do is sleep with the windows open and let all that pollen get inside your home. You might want to use a portable high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom. Also, I know this is a tough one, but keep your pets out of the bedroom and off your bed; pollen gets in their fur and can easily spread to your linens.
What can you do to ease your allergy symptoms?
One of the best ways to reduce symptoms is to use a saline nasal rinse. (Salt-water rinse) Rinsing twice a day can significantly reduce allergy symptoms by removing mucus and allergens from your nasal passages.
What else can you try?
Try over the counter medicines if your symptoms are mild.
There are several types of nonprescription medications sold over the counter to reduce allergy symptoms. These include:
Oral antihistamines: Antihistamines help reduce sneezing, itching, runny nose and watery eyes. Claritin and Zyrtec are two examples. Benadryl is also an antihistamine but can cause drowsiness.
Decongestants. Oral decongestants like pseudofed reduce nasal stuffiness. Nasal decongestants like Afrin also reduce nasal congestion but are limited to a three-day course; prolonged use of nasal spray decongestants can actually worsen the symptoms.
There are also combination medications: These medications combine an antihistamine with a decongestant, like Clairton D.
What else can you do?
Make sure to drink plenty of water, and eat an anti-inflammatory whole food diet. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, lean protein and avoiding processed foods, white flour and sugar.