For many people, the sunny weather and blossoming flowers that come with spring are worth celebrating. But for those with spring allergies, also called hay fever, these changes signify the beginning of an uncomfortable, congested season.
Seasonal allergies afflict people year-round. But while winter allergy offenders can include things like mold spores, dust mites, and pet dander, pollen is the most common trigger for spring allergies. Pollen is released into the air by trees, grass, weeds, and flowers to fertilize other plants. For those who are allergic to pollen, their immune system sees it as a threat and responds by attacking it with antibodies, which release histamines into your bloodstream. Histamines cause reactions like congestion and watery eyes because they are trying to remove the allergen from the body.
Seasonal allergies may not seem like a serious condition, but it is important to seek treatment for them so you don’t have to suffer all spring. Specialists like those at Premier Medical Center’s Allergy and Immunology department can offer treatment and lifestyle advice to manage your symptoms so you can breathe easier and enjoy springtime.
Common Spring Allergy Symptoms
Common symptoms of spring allergies include:
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Allergic rhinitis (nasal inflammation)
These symptoms can also develop into more painful conditions, like postnasal drip, which occurs when mucus accumulates at the back of the throat, causing more soreness, irritation, and coughing. These bothersome symptoms can seriously damage your quality of life during the spring allergy season. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep them at bay. Keep reading to find out how to manage your spring allergy symptoms.
Tips for Managing Spring Allergies
1. Check the pollen forecast.
A simple way to avoid spring allergens is to check the pollen count before deciding to spend time outside. During allergy season, many weather sites include a breakdown of how much pollen will be in the air during the day. Pollen levels tend to be lowest earlier in the morning and rise as the day goes on. They are typically highest in the afternoon to early evening.
2. Go outside on rainy and windless days.
Pollen has an easier time traveling when the weather is warm, dry, and windy. You probably wouldn't think that damp, cloudy weather is the best for enjoying time outside, but venturing outdoors on these days could actually allow you to breathe most easily during the springtime.
3. Avoid activities that stir up pollen.
Try to avoid outdoor activities that could cause pollen to circulate in the air around you. These could include mowing the lawn (this is especially helpful in managing a grass pollen allergy), using a leaf blower, gardening, and pulling weeds.
4. Protect your face while outdoors.
If you can't avoid the outdoors when pollen levels are highest, you can take steps to minimize your exposure. While doing yard work or gardening, try wearing sunglasses or goggles and a wide-brimmed hat. Additionally, face masks can prevent you from breathing in pollen, and wearing gloves will keep allergens off of your hands. Finally, avoid touching your face as much as possible.
5. Shower after spending time outside.
Pollen sticks to your hair, skin, and clothes when you spend time outside. To prevent pollen from spreading throughout your home and irritating your allergies further, take a shower and change your clothes immediately after you come inside. If you can't shower as soon as you come inside, it's best to wash your face and hands, and make sure to shower before you go to bed.
6. Dry your laundry inside.
Although it might be tempting to hang your laundry on a clothesline to dry in the sun, it's best to avoid this practice during spring allergy season. When you bring your garments inside, you'll be bringing pollen and other allergens with them. Finishing your laundry in the dryer is an easy way to avoid filling your space with pollen.
7. Keep your windows closed.
Whether they're in your home or car, open windows give pollen a chance to permeate your space. To keep allergens away, keep your windows closed as often as possible.
8. Filter the air in your home.
In addition to keeping your home and car cool so you can keep your windows closed, air conditioning can help filter the air around you. To ensure that it continues to trap pollen effectively, make sure to change the filter on your air conditioning unit as needed.
Another option is to use an air purifier. These devices are available at many price points, and they can help relieve indoor allergies as well as outdoor ones. So if anyone in your home has a winter allergy, like a pet dander, mold, or dust mite allergy, this could be beneficial for them, too!
9. Use saline eye drops and sinus rinses.
Saline eye drops and nasal sprays can help relieve itchiness and congestion by relieving inflammation and rinsing your eyes and nose free of pollen. Many are available over the counter, but as with any medication, it is best to speak with your primary care provider before trying them out.
Visit Your Top Allergy and Immunology Specialists
Allergy & immunology care at Premier Medical Associates can greatly improve your life this spring. You shouldn't have to deal with pollen season and spring allergies alone-- our practitioners at Premier Medical can help you manage your symptoms. An allergy specialist can perform allergy testing via a skin prick test to determine what allergy offenders cause your immune system to overreact.
We can also offer lifestyle advice, as well as recommend and prescribe medications, such as oral antihistamines and nasal sprays, to help you breathe clearly throughout spring and early summer. They may even recommend treatments like allergy shots or other forms of care to eliminate allergic reactions.
This spring allergy season, take control of your symptoms with a visit to Premier Medical Associates. Schedule an appointment today!