No one likes to think about spring allergies, but this year, the allergy season started earlier than usual. Now that springtime has arrived, let’s look at what commonly triggers spring allergies, when you need to take action and what methods you can use to keep the worst of the itching, sneezing and inflammation at bay.
The Connection Between Climate and Allergies
Spring arrived earlier in several parts of the country this year, thanks to factors such as more moisture which encourages early plant growth to warmer-than-average winters. While early spring days and warmer weather may be welcome, they come with a price. Plants release their pollen based on the temperature in the environment. When the heat increases, so does the pollen count. If you are not expecting this, your allergies are likely to kick in before you take any preventative medication, leading to misery as you adjust.
Carefully track the weather in your location to see if temperatures are running unseasonably high. Use these signs and start taking your allergy medication to avoid the worst effects. It is also a good idea to consult your doctor about when to take your allergy medication.
Maintain Your Home’s Air Quality
Many people don’t think about the air quality in their homes when they think about spring allergies, but there are several reasons to give it some thought. After spending winter closed off, your home’s air is probably filled with indoor allergens, which can aggravate your allergies. When springtime allergens appear, they can be easy to track into your home and difficult to get rid of, since allowing outside air in invites even more pollen.
One of the best ways to deal with this problem is to invest in a high-quality air filtration system that you can install in your traditional HVAC setup, something that eliminates even the most miniscule particles to ensure your indoor air quality remains optimal. These systems can be expensive and somewhat difficult to maintain. An easier option is to start using humidifiers, especially if you live in a drier region. These humidifiers can help your sinuses and mitigate the indoor effects of allergies.
Manage the Time You Spend Outdoors
Pollen counts tend to be high at certain times of day, such as at night or early in the morning. Avoid going outside at these times; carefully schedule your time to circumvent too much exposure to a pollen-laced environment, especially during the first few months of spring. Avoid activities like drying laundry outside, and try to get a family member or a friend to take your dog for a walk when possible. Of course, sometimes outdoor activity is impossible to avoid — or you’re willing to risk it and pay the price. After outdoor activity, take a quick shower to remove pollen from your skin and wash your clothes. If you plan on doing yard work, wear a face mask to protect yourself.
Find a Local Pollen Count
These days, local news sources usually let people know how dense local allergens are. Find a local news source like a website that tracks pollen counts. Most sites can track current pollen levels at any given time. Make it a habit to consult this source whenever possible. Better yet, try to find a forecast of future pollen levels. This is one of the best ways to correctly manage your allergy medications and prevent the worst of your symptoms from flaring up. Local news sources may also have advice on specific areas or activities to avoid when pollen counts are high.
The most effective allergy medications work when you take them before the pollen count increases, so knowing future pollen counts is crucial. If you have tried allergy medication before but found it to be ineffective, look into the latest treatment to see if trying a different approach may work for you. Allegra, Zyrtec and Claritin are some of the most popular allergy medications today. Plus, options like the Nasacort spray have become easier to find and can provide immediate relief when you’re in the midst of your worst symptoms.
Investigate Organic Approaches
If you prefer organic and all-natural remedies, make them a part of your allergy treatment regimen this year. Probiotics have been linked with treating allergies as well as preventing them. Some nutritionists recommend quercetin and omega-3s among other natural options.
Remember, the earlier you realize your allergies are kicking into effect, the earlier you can take steps to reduce their symptoms — and the more you will enjoy this spring. Enjoy warmer weather the right way, and do not let allergies dictate your life.
Plant image by Jim Lukach from Flickr’s Creative Commons