Nobody said spring allergies would be fun, but you never thought it would be this bad. What if you had some simple ways to avoid the sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes and runny nose that come in the spring?
"People think they're doing everything they can to battle spring allergies," says allergist Stephen Tilles, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). "But many still find themselves under siege from pollen and other allergens that appear once the weather starts to warm up. What they don't realize is that by following a few simple rules they can make life a lot more pleasant, and their allergies more bearable."
1. Spring cleaning can spruce up your nasal passages - Sweeping up the cobwebs that gathered over the winter is good for more than just making your house look better. A deep house scrub can help eliminate existing allergens and clear the air. It's especially important to get rid of mold, which builds up in bathrooms and basements and is a major allergen - especially in spring months when there's lots of moisture. Because your pets have spent a lot of time indoors over the winter, fur, saliva and dander have probably collected. Vacuuming frequently and washing upholstery and pet beds can help.
2. The power of pollen - Some people with allergies may not realize that symptoms they think are allergy-related, might actually be asthma. Studies have shown that nearly two-thirds of those with asthma also have an allergy, which can make the spring season particularly difficult. If you can't get rid of a cough, or get winded easily, you might have asthma related to allergies and should see an allergist. An allergist can identify the source of your asthma, and help you treat your allergies to improve symptoms.
3. Time to clear the air - Despite what you may have heard, the best way to clean the air in your home is not with an ionic air filter. The ionization changes the charge on a particle of pollen or dust and the particle sticks to the next thing it comes into contact with, often a wall or surface. There is usually not enough air flow to effectively filter many particles, so ionic filters don't provide much benefit for allergy sufferers. There is also a health risk which comes from the ozone they produce. The best way to clean the air is with a HEPA room air cleaner rated with a Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR). For those with central air, change your air filters every three months and use filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12.
4. Wait, don't smell that "fresh" air - Spring comes and you just want to open your windows and let in the fresh air. Don't do it. Opening your windows allows pollen to drift inside, settle into your carpet, furniture and upholstery and continue to make you miserable. So keep your house and car windows shut during allergy season. Use your air conditioning with the new air filter you just put in.
5. Don't trust "Dr. Google" - You know you shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet, but it's so tempting to look up cures for your symptoms. Instead, consult an allergist. An allergist is trained in how to identify your allergens and treat your symptoms. They can suggest the most appropriate medications to treat your allergies and asthma. You might even benefit from allergy shots (immunotherapy) which can greatly alleviate allergic suffering.
If you think you might be one of the more than 50 million Americans that suffer from allergy and asthma, ACAAI can help you find an allergist in your area.