If you have ever had to deal with seasonal allergies, you know how they can interfere with your quality of life and make you miserable. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), about 35 million people in the United States suffer from seasonal allergies. Symptoms include red, swollen and itchy eyes, congestion, sneezing, sore throats and fatigue.
Although various substances, such as ragweed, cause problems in the fall, pollen in the spring and summer seems to be one of the biggest culprits for seasonal allergies. Here are some things you can try for seasonal allergy relief.
Check your local newspaper or weather forecast for the daily pollen count or mold levels. The National Allergy Bureau also lists pollen and mold levels by region on their website. On days when the pollen count is the highest, try to limit time spent outdoors. Keep in mind, pollen counts tend to be the highest in the morning between the hours of 5AM until 10AM. (To learn more about mold and its effects on allergies, see Health Hazards Of Mold Exposure.)
Certain seasonal allergy symptoms, such as headache and stuffy nose, can be treated with decongestants. Other symptoms, like itchy and watery eyes, may respond to an antihistamine. If you suffer from a variety of symptoms, you may need to take a combination medication, which contains both an antihistamine and a decongestant. Be sure to read warning labels, since some allergy medications can cause drowsiness. When taking particular allergy medications, certain activities, like driving, should be avoided.
If you plan on doing any work outdoors, consider wearing a pollen or allergy mask. The mask can help decrease the amount of pollen you breathe in and can help reduce symptoms. There are different types of pollen masks, including disposable and reusable ones. Check the micron size of the mask, which will indicate whether it filters out pollen.
Although mowing the grass may be the last thing you want to do, keeping the grass short can really help with seasonal allergy relief. It can help reduce the amount of pollen in the air and is especially helpful if you’re allergic to grass pollen. If possible, have someone else mow the grass or wear an allergy mask when you do yard work.
Pollen can get on your skin and in your hair when you spend time outside. Even once you go indoors, the pollen can still bother you for the remainder of the day. If you are unable to take a shower, change clothes to reduce continued exposure to the allergen.
Allergy medication containing an antihistamine or decongestant can have side effects such as sleepiness, dry mouth or increased heart rate. There is also the chance that allergy medication may not reduce all allergy symptoms. If you are using allergy medication daily, you may benefit from an allergy shot. Once an allergist determines which substance is causing your seasonal allergies, tiny amounts of extract can be injected into your skin. Over time, the shots can help your immune system become desensitized to the allergen, which will reduce symptoms. (For more information on allergy shots, read Do Allergy Shots Work? A Guide To Immunotherapy.)
If you are looking for a way to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms without the use of medication, you may want to try nasal lavage. Nasal lavage is the process of flushing out the nasal cavity with saline. It can help remove pollen or other substances, which lead to seasonal allergy symptoms, from the nasal cavity. (Be sure to read Nasal Irrigation For Relief From Sinus Problems to learn more about nasal lavage.)
Although most people enjoy fresh air, keeping your doors and windows closed in both your car and home may help when allergen counts are high. Fans, which draw air from the outside, should also be avoided. Use an air conditioner instead of fans in both your car and home.
Grab a pair of sunglasses before heading outside, especially on days when pollen counts are high. Both grass and tree pollen can get into your eyes and lead to symptoms, such as itchy eyes, runny nose and sore throats. Although some pollen will still get into your body, sunglasses can reduce the amount.
An air purifier with a high efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) will draw pollen particles in through the air and trap the pollen in the filter. An air purifier will also clean the air and not only reduce pollen, but will also filter other allergens, such as mold and ragweed. (If you want to read more about air purifiers for allergies, check out Finding The Best Air Purifiers For Allergies.)
Seasonal allergy symptoms may range from mild to severe. Through a combination of preventive measures, like the ones listed above, and the use of allergy medications, seasonal allergy relief is possible. Some trial and error may be needed to determine what works best to reduce your symptoms.