Happy Spring! Hopefully the freeze is over and warm temperatures, pretty flowers, budding trees and the smell of fresh cut grass are in the near future. Some people dread this time of year because they have seasonal allergies and often “suffer” through the season.
Allergy symptoms tends to increase as pollen counts soar, but by knowing triggers to allergy symptoms and how to avoid allergens, sufferers can stay active and control their symptoms.
Allergens, whether from pollen or another source, tax the body’s immune system causing symptoms of stuffy nose, itchy watery eyes and sneezing. The most common allergen in the spring is tree pollen. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the most common types of trees that trigger allergies are maple, sycamore, elm, oak, Western red cedar, birch, ash, cypress, walnut, hickory and poplar.
Mold is an allergen that is present year-round and releases spores, but causes trouble especially in the spring because of damp rainy weather. In the summer, grass pollen allergies are more common. In the fall, ragweed allergies tend to be the most troublesome.
Prevention of allergen exposure is much easier than dealing with the symptoms. There are many ways this can be accomplished in order to enjoy the spring season better.
1) Keep doors and windows closed.
2) Use allergen filters in your air conditioning system.
3) Use a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter that can trap 99.97% of microscopic air particles.
4) Do not line-dry clothes outside.
5) Bathe and wash clothing after exposure to potential allergens.
6) Take shoes off when entering your home.
7) Avoid lawn care or exercising outdoors on days when pollen counts are high. Counts are highest in the mornings and on windy days.
8) Use glasses and sunglasses to help keep pollen out of your eyes.
9) Use a filter mask when gardening or doing lawn care.
In addition, smoking can make allergy symptoms worse. If you smoke, here is another reason to stop. Limit your exposure to others who smoke as well.
There are multiple over the counter remedies for allergies. These include oral medications such as Benadryl, Claritin, Allegra and Xyzal. Nasal sprays include Nasocort, Flonase and Zicam. These medications work by blocking your body’s response to the allergens. They may interact with other medications you are taking so always contact a physician before taking and read package inserts for warnings and side effects. For more severe cases of allergies, allergy shots might be recommended.
It is important to note that allergy symptoms do not disappear right away when taking medications. It may take a week or two for routine use of medication to build up in your body before symptoms abate.
The Fort Wayne Accuweather site has pollen counts for trees, grass and ragweed listed daily. Checking pollen counts is a good way to keep track of your risk of exposure. The address is www.accuweather.com/en/us/fort-wayne-in/46825/allergies-weather/328790.
Article written by Carol White, Nurse Practitioner. Article sponsored by Kingston Residence.