Springtime allergies: Nip them in the bud
Relieve springtime allergies with these tried-and-true techniques.
Spring means flower buds and blooming trees — and if you're one of the millions of people who have springtime allergies, it also means sneezing, congestion, runny nose and other bothersome symptoms. Springtime allergies — also called hay fever and allergic rhinitis — can make you miserable. But before you settle for plastic flowers and artificial turf, try these simple strategies to keep springtime allergies under control.
Reduce your exposure to allergy triggers
There are a number of things that you can do to reduce your exposure to the things that trigger your allergy signs and symptoms (allergens):
· Stay indoors on dry, windy days — the best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
· Delegate lawn mowing, weed pulling and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.
· Remove clothes you've worn outside; you may also want to shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
· Don't hang laundry outside — pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
· Wear a dust mask if you do outside chores.
Take extra steps when pollen counts are high
Seasonal allergy signs and symptoms can flare up when there's a lot of pollen in the air. These steps can help you reduce your exposure:
· Check your local TV or radio station, your local newspaper, or the Internet for pollen forecasts and current pollen levels.
· If high pollen counts are forecasted, start taking allergy medications before your symptoms start.
· Close doors and windows at night or any other time when pollen counts are high.
· Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.
Keep indoor air clean
There's no miracle product that can eliminate all allergens from the air in your home, but these suggestions may help:
· Use the air conditioning in your house and car.
· If you have forced air heating or air conditioning in your house, use high-efficiency filters and follow regular maintenance schedules.
· Keep indoor air dry with a dehumidifier.
· Use a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom.
· Clean floors often with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.
When home remedies aren't enough, see your doctor
For many people, avoiding allergens and taking over-the-counter medications is enough to ease symptoms. But if your seasonal allergies are still bothersome, don't give up. A number of other treatments are available.
If you have bad seasonal allergies, your doctor may recommend that you have skin tests or blood tests to find out exactly what allergens trigger your symptoms. Testing can help determine what steps you need to take to avoid your specific triggers and identify which treatments are likely to work best for you.