Spring is FINALLY in the air, providing opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy the warmer weather. As the pollen starts to go airborne, 35 million Americans will experience seasonal allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever. We can’t prevent spring allergies, but we can minimize their effects.
So what causes allergies in the first place?
Each spring, the trees and other plants start to release pollen into the air to fertilize other plants. Unfortunately, when those tiny grains are inhaled by someone who is allergic, that person’s immune system fights back. It does this by releasing antibodies.
What are antibodies?
Antibodies have the job of identifying and attacking illness-causing organisms, helping you stay healthy. When the body releases antibodies triggered by pollen, it releases chemicals called histamines into the blood. Histamines are what cause the symptoms of allergies.
What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies?
Your body can experience a wide variety of symptoms. The most common are:
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes
- Watery eyes
- Symptoms of asthma
How do I know if I have allergies?
If you have any of the symptoms, consider consulting your health care provider. He or she may refer you for further allergy testing. There are several forms of testing available; your doctor or specialist can talk through which option may be best for you.
How can I minimize the effects of allergies?
Here are a few tips to survive this spring:
- Reduce exposure to allergens.
- Educate yourself on your triggers so you can avoid them.
- Stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (when pollen counts are higher).
- Dust areas in your home where pollen can accumulate, like vents and shelves.
- Change and clean air filters in your home.
- Consider keeping the windows closed to keep allergens out.
- Vacuum your carpets often, and consider seasonal steam cleaning.
- Protect your eyes with sunglasses.
- Avoid mowing the lawn. Avoid the neighbor’s lawn if it’s freshly mowed.
- Wash your hair after being outside — it collects in hair easily.
- Wear clothing that covers your skin when outdoors. Wash your clothes immediately after you come in for the day.
- Leave your shoes at the door when entering the house.
- Wash your dogs’ paws before them letting back in the house (they collect pollen).
Learning what you can do to minimize the severity of your allergies can help improve your quality of life this spring! With a little planning, you can avoid the havoc of itchy eyes, sneezing, and runny noses!