Every spring and summer, millions of Americans dread the trip to the park or the playground and will do anything to avoid activities that trigger outdoor allergies.
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. Allergy sufferers may want to prepare in advance as the weather seems to be warming up earlier than normal this year."
Dr. William Reisacher, director of Allergy in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, says, "Many patients believe that nothing can be done for seasonal allergies, but that's just not true. If medications and avoidance alone are not helping, pre-seasonal desensitization may be the answer."
Drs. Resnick and Reisacher 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 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 between
4 a.m. and 8 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 antihistamines can relieve symptoms temporarily, and taking it an hour before exposure can decrease symptom severity. Sublingual immunotherapy is a way to deliver allergy medications orally, via liquid drops. This type of treatment can be performed before and during the allergy season to desensitize allergy sufferers who only experience symptoms during the spring months.
•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.