While many look forward to Spring and its abundance of flowers, for allergy sufferers it’s more likely to be a season of stuffy noses, sneezing and watery, itchy, irritated eyes. For some, these symptoms may escalate to include sore throats and headaches. If you experience several of these symptoms and they persist for more than a couple of weeks, you may be suffering from seasonal allergies. If this is the case, fortunately there are things you can do about it.
Find out what you’re allergic to. A visit to a certified allergist can help to pinpoint which plants and pollen you’re most sensitive to. The doctor may be able to prescribe a seasonal treatment plan that you can start before symptoms begin to appear.
Avoid the outdoors. Spend as much time as feasible during “allergy season” indoors, especially in the mornings and on warm, dry, windy days, when pollen counts are the highest. If you normally run or exercise in the park, consider joining a gym for the Spring and doing your running on a treadmill.
Wear a hat when outdoors, and wash your hair often. Your hair is like a magnet to pollen, so try washing your hair before you go to bed so as not to transfer it to your pillow when you sleep. If you normally use hair gels or sprays, avoid them during allergy season, because they become “pollen magnets.”
Wash your linen and clothes more often. And when you do, don’t hang them on a line outdoors to dry. This just allows the newly-clean clothes to pick up pollen in the air.
Don’t use window fans. Instead, use an air conditioner set on “Recirculate” to keep out the pollen rather than a fan, which will just take the pollen in the air and spread it around.
Use a saltwater nasal spray. You can make this yourself by mixing a teaspoon of table salt with eight ounces of water. Using this spray twice a day can help to wash allergens out of your nasal passages, and to keep them moisturized.
Eat allergy-fighting foods. Foods that are rich in Vitamin C have been shown to unblock clogged sinuses, so indulge in oranges, broccoli, grapefruit, kale and brussels sprouts. The flavonoid quercetin has been shown to inhibit the release of histamines that trigger the symptoms of allergies, so adding foods high in quercetin like black and green tea, berries, apples, and red onions may help. Some studies have indicated that papaya and pineapple, which contain bromelain, can reduce seasonal allergy symptoms.
When you stop to sniff the flowers, sniff the right flowers. Plants that are allergy-friendly include periwinkles, gladiolus, irises, begonias, orchids, and bougainvilleas; plants that are likely to provoke your allergies include daisies, sunflowers, zinnias, dahlias, chrysanthemums, lily of the valley, gardenias, narcissus, and star jasmine.
Your dog is a source of allergens, too. When Rover comes in after frolicking in the yard, consider washing his feet off rather than allowing him to bring mold and pollen from outside into the house with him. Pet dander can also trigger allergies, so bathe your pets often and wash their bedding when you wash your own.
Leave your shoes by the door. Pollen and other allergens catch a ride on your feet, just as they do on Rover’s.
Avoid strong fragrances. Once the allergic reactions have begun, your immune system may become as sensitive to your favorite perfume as it is to pollen.
Wear movie star sunglasses. Really. Large, outsized glasses can help to keep pollen from being blown into your eyes when you’re outdoors.
Consider ditching your carpets. For allergy sufferers, your carpets may be the worst choice possible in floor coverings, because they tend to trap allergens of all kinds. If you love your carpets, vacuum them often, preferably with a machine that has HEPA filters.