If your seasonal allergies are making you miserable this spring, you’re not alone. More than 50 million Americans experience allergies each year. The good news is there are measures you can take to minimize the impact of seasonal allergies.
Dr. Erin Willits, an allergy specialist from Alta View Hospital, will present a free LiVe Well workshop at Alta View Hospital on Wednesday, May 30 from 6-7 p.m. This is a free class, and she will cover several angles from pediatric to adult allergies, including food and environmental allergies, asthma, eczema and when to see a doctor. For more information visit http://www.altaviewhospital.org/ or call 801.501.2787.
What You Should Know About Allergies and Treatment Options:
1. Know which pollen you’re allergic to and respond accordingly
When it comes to seasonal allergies, it’s important to know exactly what you’re allergic to so you can take appropriate action.
Simply monitoring the pollen count each day isn’t effective. If you don’t know what you’re allergic to, it’s hard to limit your exposure.
There are three main types of pollen: trees, grass, and weeds. Here is a general timeline of common pollen seasons:
- March through June is tree pollen season
- June, July, and August is usually when the grass pollens are high, sometimes into September in a warm year
- August through the end of October is weed pollen season – it takes a hard freeze to kill off the weeds
- Some outdoor molds also peak in the fall months
- November to early February generally provide some relief for seasonal allergy sufferers
When monitoring pollen counts for your specific allergy, here are a few ways to cope: Pollen counts tend to rise on dry, warm, and windy days, so if it’s breezy outside, try to stay indoors. It’s important to note that pollen counts are highest in the morning and again at night, so if you do need to go outside, try to do so when counts are low.
“Some people think if there’s an oak tree in their yard, they need to stay away from it,” Dr. Willits says. “But if the pollen count for oak trees is high, it flies everywhere, and you’re going to be exposed to allergens regardless.”
2. Start your regimen early
If you know that you experience allergies each year, start your allergy regimen about a month before your specific allergy season starts. That way any medication has a chance to get into your system and start working before the season starts.
3. Close windows and doors
It might be tempting to let the crisp spring breeze into your home, but when you’re an allergy sufferer, you just might be opening Pandora’s box. Instead turn on the air conditioner to keep the pollen out and the temperature cool in your home.
4. Keep your home clear of dust and allergens
Keeping your home free of dust – if that’s even possible – can make a big difference in helping to keep your seasonal allergies under control. Dust contains pollen and other irritants that can trigger your allergies in your home. In addition, cigarette, cigar, and other types of smoke, including fumes from a wood-burning stove only make allergy symptoms worse, so steer clear of these irritants to help keep your allergies at bay.
5. Shower at night
Because pollen can stick to your clothes, skin and hair, it’s important to shower each night to remove any irritants. And remember to remove and wash any clothing that was exposed to the pollen. You’ll sleep better at night if the pollen doesn’t have a chance of getting into your bed.
6. Pre-medicate with an antihistamine before working outside
It’s important to take an antihistamine before working outside and participating in activities such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves, and other activities that result in pollen exposure. Although these activities can trigger allergy symptoms, an antihistamine can go a long way to help you accomplish your Saturday to-do list if it includes yard work. Wearing a pollen mask is also an easy way to reduce exposure to irritants. Pollen masks are available at any Intermountain pharmacy for additional protection against allergens.
7. Manage pet dander
This one may sound like a no-brainer, but if you’re allergic to pets, don’t get one. If you do have a pet, at the very least, keep them out of your bedroom and off of your bed. And it’s important to note that even if you’re not allergic to pets, they can carry pollen on their fur, so it’s important to groom them frequently by brushing their fur, wash your hands after touching them, and never rub your eyes after petting them. Vacuuming your house at least once per week can also do wonders to keep pet dander at bay.
8. Manage mold
Some people can have a mold-specific allergy – both indoor and outdoor mold. One way to lessen mold in your home is to wipe away any standing water in the bathroom and shower area. Using a ventilation fan when taking a shower also helps to lessen the chance of mold. If you have mold allergy, exercise caution when using a humidifier. Aim to keep the humidly level in your home below 60 percent. Anything higher than 60 percent can cause mold to grow in your home.
When to seek medical help
If you are unresponsive to over the counter allergy medication or if your allergies cause you to cough or wheeze, it could be more than allergies, and it’s time to see a doctor. Allergies can turn into asthma or an upper respiratory illness such as bronchitis or a sinus infection, so it’s important to get in to see an allergist who can assess your symptoms and develop a tailored treatment plan, including testing for food allergies, asthma, and other conditions.
Visit www.IntermountainHealthcare.org for more details.
This story includes sponsored content.