Tips to help you avoid springtime allergies and hay fever
In springtime, from coast to coast, Americans’ allergies are in bloom along with trees, grass and weeds.
About 39 million people in the United States have seasonal allergic rhinitis, commonly called hay fever. For most, May through August is to be dreaded because of all the airborne pollen.
Avoiding seasonal allergies is hard to do. Wherever there’s vegetation, there’s pollen.
Would moving help your allergy?
Say “achoo” and groan. There is no “cure” for allergies, so doctors say control and avoidance are your best defense. But how do you avoid that nasty pollen when it’s in the air you breathe? Move?
There have been studies of people who have moved to escape their seasonal allergies, but the result is rarely happy.
Pollen from ragweed (which affects three-fourths of allergic rhinitis sufferers), grasses and trees is so small and buoyant that the wind may carry it miles from its source. Mold spores, which grow outdoors in fields and on dead leaves, also are everywhere. They may outnumber pollen grains in the air even when the pollen season is at its peak.
Sometimes when people move, they either develop an allergic sensitivity to something else in their new environment, or they unwittingly import their enemy.
If you’re a seasonal allergy sufferer, though, take heart. There are steps you can take to lower your exposure to pollens and molds.
Try to avoid going outdoors when pollen counts are high. The outdoor air has the most pollen and mold between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Also, there’s a lot more pollen blowing around on a warm windy day than after a spring rain. The rain usually washes some of the pollen out of the air.
Also, don’t drive with your sunroof or convertible top open.
Here are some other tips:
- When you can, keep windows closed and be in an air-conditioned environment. A HEPA filter or an electrostatic humidifier may help clean pollen and mold from the indoor air. Using your car air conditioners will also help.
- Don’t hang clothing outdoors to dry. Pollen may cling to towels and sheets.
- Wear a dust mask when mowing, raking leaves or gardening, and take your allergy medication before you start. Better yet, find someone who doesn’t have allergies to mow your lawn for you.
- When you come in from the outdoors, take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes so you don’t take the pollen to bed with you.
You can’t spend 24 hours a day inside, so that’s where medications come in.
Your doctor may prescribe antihistamines, steroid sprays and/or other allergy medications. At times they’re enough to prevent or reduce the severity of allergy symptoms. If you have uncontrolled symptoms, ask your doctor about immunotherapy (allergy shots).