Spring is here! The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and the allergies are RAGING! For so many Americans, spring is a time to enjoy beautiful weather and time outdoors. Unfortunately, more than 20 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies that make this time of the year nearly unbearable.
For most people in the United States, allergy season is usually between February to early summer. However, that isn’t the case for everyone. In the warmer states, like Texas, people can experience allergy symptoms 10 months out of the year!
So why do our allergies get worse when the seasons change, and what can we do to help out symptoms? After learning more about seasonal allergies, you will be able to combat the symptoms you’re experiencing more effectively and even know how to avoid the allergens that have the greatest effect on you.
How do Allergic Reactions Happen?
Allergic reactions, including seasonal allergies, occur when your body sees a foreign substance as a threat. When your body identifies an allergen that it believes to be harmful, it sends out antibodies to attack it, even though it’s not doing any harm to your body at all. Some of the most common sources of seasonal allergens are:
- Pet dander
- Grasses like timothy and ryegrass
- Dust mites
Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
While everyone’s body may react differently to allergens, the most common symptoms are:
- Mucus in your throat
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Swollen, red, and watery eyes
- Itchy nose, eyes, or the roof of your mouth
Who is Most Likely to Suffer from Seasonal Allergies?
While anyone at any age can develop seasonal allergies, those whose parents suffer from seasonal allergies are more likely to deal with it themselves. If BOTH of your parents suffer from seasonal allergies, your chance of experiencing the same problem more than DOUBLES! If both of your parents are in the clear, you unfortunately still have the chance of developing allergies of your own. However, it’s much less likely.
6 Tips to Reducing and Managing Seasonal Allergy Symptoms
Is allergy season taking its toll on you and your family? Here are a few ideas to help you reduce and manage your seasonal allergy symptoms.
Reduce Your Exposure to Seasonal Allergy Triggers
Minimizing your exposure to allergens that trigger your symptoms is the most effective way of managing your allergies this time of the year. While it is nearly impossible to eliminate the allergen itself, it is possible to limit your exposure to it.
When you go outdoors during this time of the year, try your best to avoid windy days. The best time to go outside is right after it rains because the moisture reduces the number of allergens being carried through the air. For any outdoor tasks like gardening, weed eating, or lawn mowing, if you are someone who suffers from seasonal allergies, it would be best to delegate that task to other members of the family. If you must do this task yourself, there are pollen masks available that will limit the number of allergens you inhale.
If you do decide to spend some time outside, when you come back indoors, be sure to wash the clothes that you wore and rinse them off in the shower. Lastly, be sure to avoid hanging bedding, clothes, and any other fabrics outside to dry so you don’t bring allergens inside your home.
Take Extra Precautions During Allergy Season
One of the best ways to take extra precautions to protect yourself is by regularly checking the pollen forecasts on your local news station. If it is predicted that pollen levels will be higher on that given day, be sure to take your allergy medication before leaving the house. In addition, be sure to keep doors and windows in your home closed to prevent allergens from getting into your living space.
Keep the Air Indoors Clean
While there isn’t anything that will completely eliminate allergens inside your home, there are steps you can take to greatly decrease the number of allergens in the air. First, check your air filters and make sure they are high-efficiency. The higher quality air filters will do a much better job of cleaning the air as you run your AC/Heat. Second, keep up to date on any regular maintenance that needs to be performed on these units and consider investing in a dehumidifier to keep moisture out of the air. Lastly, clean floors often during this time of the year to keep allergens at a minimum.
Try some Over-the-Counter Medications (OTCs)
Over-the-Counter medications are extremely helpful in controlling any symptoms you may be experiencing during allergy season. OTCs that are helpful in reducing symptoms include:
- Decongestants: Decongestant OTCs work to help ease congestion in your nasal passages, helping with stuffy noses. They can be taken orally or as a nasal spray. However, it is important to remember that the use of nasal sprays for more than about 3 consecutive days can actually increase your risk of worsening your allergy symptoms. Some examples of decongestant OTCs include Afrin, Neo-Synephrine, Sudafed, and Afrinol.
- Oral Antihistamines: Oral Antihistamines work to relieve allergy symptoms that include stuffy, itchy, or runny nose, itchy, and watering eyes. Examples of oral antihistamines include Alavert and Claritin.
- Nasal Sprays: Nasal sprays are a fast-acting and effective way to relieve symptoms like a stuffy or runny nose. These medications are most effective BEFORE your allergy symptoms begin.
Depending on the symptoms you’re experiencing and their severity, it might be good to consider using a combination of OTCs. There are even some medications that combine the benefits of antihistamines and decongestants together such as Claritin-D and Allegra-D.
Use a Saline Solution to Flush Your Sinuses
The most common allergy symptoms wreak havoc on your sinuses. If medications aren’t your thing, you may be able to find some relief by using a saline solution to actually clean out your nasal passages. Saline solutions are great at cleaning out any lingering allergens that may be stuck and contributing to your symptoms. If you decide to try this method, it is important that you use distilled, boiled and cooled, or filtered water to ensure you don’t introduce any other allergens.
Consider Alternative Treatments
In recent years, several alternatives including natural treatments have been growing in popularity. Essential oils and certain nutrients like vitamin C and quercetin have been getting attention as natural treatment options. Treatments such as acupuncture have also been said to alleviate allergy symptoms.
Final Thoughts from Rutledge Insurance Group
While there isn’t a cure for seasonal allergies, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer year after year from allergy symptoms. Seasonal allergies are a pain, but the good news is there are several different options available to get you back to enjoying the springtime. With the right knowledge and tools, you’re able to take the right precautions and treat seasonal allergies in the most effective way possible.
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