Every spring and summer, millions of Americans dread the trip to the park, the playground, or participating in any of the myriad activities that trigger outdoor allergy symptoms.
Dr. David Resnick, director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, says, "No matter where the symptoms show up, the problem affects the entire individual and could last a lifetime."
Dr. Ronit Herzog, director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the Komansky Center for Children's Health at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, says, "This season can be especially trying for children who suffer from allergies, as they struggle to participate in outdoor activities without triggering the sneezing, runny nose, eye irritation, or in some cases, asthma symptoms and hives that can be caused by pollens, molds, food allergies or a typical bee sting."
Drs. Resnick and Herzog offer the following strategies to help allergy sufferers survive the winds of spring and summer:
•Stay in an air-conditioned space. If you are allergic to pollen, it is recommended to run the air conditioner as much as possible during the warm-weather months instead of using a fan. Air conditioners can filter out large airborne pollen particles, whereas window fans draw pollen in. You should keep your windows closed and your air conditioner clean.
•Cut back on morning activities. Pollen counts are usually highest in the early to mid-morning hours between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., so minimizing early morning activities may help you get a jump start on a symptom-free day. Shower and shampoo after playing or working outside.
•Avoid stinging insects. If you are allergic to bee stings, avoid wearing brightly colored clothing, flower prints, or perfumes and lotions with flowery scents. Always wear shoes when walking in the grass, cover your body as much as possible when working outside, and don't forget to carry medication in case of an emergency.
•Take medications. Eye drops, nose spray and non-sedating antihistamine can relieve symptoms temporarily, and taking it an hour before exposure can decrease symptom severity.
•Remove contact lenses. If you wear contact lenses, remove them if you have red, swollen or itchy eyes. Contact lenses can further irritate eye allergies and make the condition worse.