Old Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring just a little over a month ago. If hes right, you may have precious little time to beat season change in regard to allergies. Certain parts of the US are more prone to allergies, primarily the Southeast due to more foliage and higher humidity. Its not just the allergens themselves though, as a study from The Ohio State University found that every day stress can trigger reactions that can make you way more responsive to them. Here are a few more tips and tricks to avoiding the allergy mess altogether.
One of the best practices for those who regularly suffer from seasonal allergies is to start taking daily meds before the affecting season starts. Most OTC allergy meds are designed to block the receptors that cause allergy attacks, so start taking them a couple of weeks before peak season to make sure you are ahead of the game. If youre already feeling the effects (sniffling, sneezing, coughing) then its too late.
When youve been cooped up all winter long, the first things most people want to do is open up the windows and enjoy some fresh air. The problem is that the fresh air youre letting into your home can be loaded with millions of pollen grains. A better option for allergy sufferers is to keep those windows closed and run the AC, or even the fan. Make sure you get a high quality air filter, and dont use a humidifier either (they can trap more pollen in the air due to moisture). The same goes for when youre in the car too, and most newer vehicles have filters for the air that you breathe inside the car. Consult your owners manual to be sure.
Timing is everything when it comes to spring and summer allergies. Not only do different types of allergies peak in different months, but allergies in general peak at different times of day. While trees begin pollen production in March, it doesnt hit peak season until June. Grass allergies are usually late bloomers and dont really ramp up until May. No matter the season though, the worst time to conduct any outside activities such as exercising or yard work is between 5-10 a.m. Not only do trees and grass need the moisture from dew to pollinate, but also heat. Once the sun comes up, so do the pollen counts. The safest bet is to schedule any outdoor work or exercise for the evenings, when counts are at their lowest.
Spring cleaning can be a tedious task in and of itself, but if you have allergies it can require a lot more work. Its best to focus on the areas you spend the most time in, which for a lot of people can be the bedroom. For the best prevention wash any sheets, pillow cases, and curtains weekly with hot water. This goes for more than furniture fabrics though, because if youve been outside during those peak pollen times you need to wash yourself as well to keep from experiencing delayed effects. Washing your hair thoroughly can be the most important part, because its a magnet for pollen particles.
Even if you miss your target time for starting allergy meds, your doctor can usually prescribe a nasal spray or other alternative to help offset their effects. Pay attention to the signs also, because not everyone realizes they have allergies. Some can often mistake sneezing and stuffy noses for a cold, but if it lasts over a week then its much more likely to be an allergy. If over the counter meds dont do it for you, consult your doctor. They may even refer you to a specialist if the symptoms are bad enough.