Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the allergies is! Wonder no more. For one in four here in the northeast, spring also triggers seasonal allergies, an immune system response that transforms allergy sufferers into congested, itchy sneeze machines. Plus, thanks to a precipitation-heavy winter, experts are predicting a particularly severe spring pollen season. Here are 7 ways to relieve spring allergies that promise to prevent or at the very least minimize your reaction to the allergen onslaught.
1. Limit pollen exposure to limit spring allergies
Every little bit helps when the air is hazy with pollen, and spring allergies are in overdrive. Wear sunglasses and a brimmed hat, keep the windows closed at home, and avoid the outdoors at midday to afternoon when pollen levels are at their highest, says Dr. Bassett. And when you come home, try to rid yourself of pollen as thoroughly as possible. Change your outdoor clothing before going in the bedroom, and shower and wash your hair before turning in for the night.
2. Take medicine early to relieve spring allergies
If you have seasonal allergies, start taking your preferred medication (nasal antihistamines/steroids, oral antihistamines, or eye drops) two weeks before symptoms are likely to set in, says Clifford W. Bassett, M.D., Medical Director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York and AAFA ambassador. Once your nasal or airway passages are inflamed, it reduces the chances that medication will work. “If you take the right meds before symptoms are severe, they’ll work better,” he says.
If your main complaints are nasal congestion, sneezing, and a runny nose, opt for a nasal spray. (Caveat: we caution patients to stop using nasal decongestant sprays after five days, since the spray irritates the lining of the nose and can exacerbate symptoms, causing a rebound runny nose.) If allergies typically make you feel itchy, try non-sedating oral antihistamines, such as loratadine (Claratin), fexofenadine (Allegra), or cetirizine (Zyrtec). And if your allergies make it hard to sleep, take Benedryl or Chlor-Trimetin, which are 100% sedation antihistamines.
3. Rinse your nasal passages regularly
No, really, as gross as it may sound, experts advocate rinsing your nasal passages daily using a “neti-pot”, during pollen season. Our providers believe nasal irrigation is especially important for people who are constantly headache ridden and stuffy. Rinsing with a salt water solution decreases inflammation in the sinuses. How does a saline rinse work? Nasal saline can dilute and rinse away pollen and molds that have traveled to your nasal passages.
If you ever open your windows and doors, keep your shoes on in the house, or don’t strip down your clothes when you come inside, there is pollen in your home. So shoes off at the door! Aside from pollen, a lot of people are also allergic to dust mites and mold, which linger in homes as well, accumulating during the long winter months.
To reduce indoor allergen exposure:
- keep pets off the bed as dust mites are attracted to pet dander
- vacuum often
- set air conditioners to “recirculate”
- keep the windows closed
- and check for moisture, if you have a mold allergy.
Our doctors say “A little bit of elbow grease goes a long way.” Same goes for your car. Dusting and vacuuming it often during pollen season, and especially getting down into those hard to get crevices is important. And, just like your in home air conditioner, running the AC on re-circulation can help keep those allergens out.
5. Natural remedies for spring allergies
Not a fan of conventional medication? The Association for the Advancement of Restorative Medicine (AARM), recommends patients take natural supplements like nettles and a plant pigment called quercetin to relieve allergy-induced runny nose, watery eyes, hives, and swelling.
Another strategy: Vitamin C. It’s a natural antihistamine, but it’s very gentle—taking 500-1000 mg., three times a day can help to reduce symptoms.
Additional natural aids like cayenne pepper and green tea sometimes help to reduce allergic reactions without OTC medication. If you suffer from cedar pollen allergies drinking a green tea called “Benifuuki” might be your best bet.
6. Reduce stress to reduce your allergies
In keeping with a holistic health strategy, many doctors believe you have to address underlying issues that may be exacerbating your allergic reactions. If you’ve battled hormone imbalance, chronic stress, or food sensitivities, addressing them could alleviate your allergy woes, as when we’re stressed, we’re more likely to have allergic responses. Research shows that when our cortisol levels are imbalanced, it affects the immune system. The more we can help them reduce stress (through yoga, meditation, getting enough sleep, etc.), we can decrease the chances of having allergic responses to the environment. A study published in the April 2014 issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) supports stress-reduction therapy, it found that allergy sufferers with persistent stress experience more allergy flares.
7. Shower immediately for allergy relief
This one is pretty straight forward, and surprisingly effective. Simply be sure to shower as soon as you come inside, and get those pollen ridden clothes right in the wash. This tip will prevent allergens from outdoors coming into your home.
Having a rough allergy season? Here’s the good news: our providers at AFC New Britain are here to help relieve your suffering. Visit us, with no appointment needed 7 days a week from 8-8pm Mondays-Fridays, 8-5pm Saturdays and Sundays. We accept all insurances.