As the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers, and due to the amount of rain that we’ve had in central Texas this year, allergies have already been especially rough this spring. Trees and grasses are so healthy they are now producing & releasing massive quantities of irritating airborne pollen grains that cause allergies in susceptible individuals. Itchy, watery eyes, a runny and stuffy nose, and a scratchy throat are some of the symptoms that occur. Molds have also been high this year, which just adds to the misery that everyone is feeling. So what’s the best way to prevent and manage these spring allergies?
Since the major cause of allergy symptoms is outdoors, limiting the time that you spend outside can help, especially on windy days and in the early morning hours when pollen levels are at their highest. That also means keeping the windows closed and using central air conditioner rather than window or attic fans that allow pollen inside. Avoid using evaporative coolers or humidifiers as well since these can promote mold growth indoors.
When you do have to be outdoors, covering up to limit your exposure can help; for example, wear sunglasses in order to protect your eyes and a scarf or a mask to protect your nose and throat. If you’re gardening, enlist someone to mow the lawn for you and avoid piles of leaves that can harbor molds. Also, refrain from using chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides that can irritate your airways.
When you’ve been outside and return indoors, remove your shoes and launder your clothing as soon as possible to avoid accumulating the spores inside your home. You can also wash your face or shower to remove pollen that may be on your skin and in your hair. And using saline nasal rinses will remove any allergens that penetrated your nasal passages and might trigger more symptoms.
Medications can also help to decrease your sensitivity. Taking antihistamines can relieve itching and drainage, and experts recommend taking these at night so that their effectiveness peaks in the morning. If allergies have occurred in the spring in years past, start using steroid nasal sprays before the season begins for maximum benefit. If despite all of this your symptoms persist or worsen, consult an allergist for more effective treatments.
Recent research suggests that global warming is making spring allergies bloom earlier than before. That means that allergen levels will rise sooner and last longer, so having a plan is more crucial than ever. Taking measures to decrease your exposure to pollens and mold spores will help, as will early and consistent use of doctor-recommended medications and treatments.
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