According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, 1 in 5 people, or an estimated 50 million Americans, suffer from some type of allergies. It is highly likely that you or someone you know will have seasonal allergies.
In many areas of the United States, spring allergies begin in February and last until the early summer. Tree pollination starts earliest in the year, followed by grass pollination in late spring through late summer, and ragweed pollination in the fall. In tropical climates, however, grass may pollinate throughout a good portion of the year. Mild winter temperatures can cause plants to pollinate early. A rainy spring can also promote the rapid growth of plants and lead to an increase in mold, leading to symptoms that last well into fall.
Ways to Control Seasonal Allergies
Allergies can interfere with sleep, disrupt daily activities, decrease productivity, and sometimes lead to sinus infections. That’s especially true for those with persistent cases, defined as having symptoms more than 4 days a week, for more than 4 weeks a year. These steps can help improve your seasonal allergies symptoms.
Keep your home as allergen-free as possible. Shut windows to keep pollen out. Pollen counts are highest in the morning and on windy days, so try to stay indoors during these times. Take off your shoes and change clothes after coming indoors. Dust with a damp cloth and use a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter daily. Shower before bed to rinse off pollen that collects on skin and hair during the day.
A respirator mask will keep allergens from getting into your airways when you can’t avoid specific allergy triggers, like when you work in your yard or vacuum. An N95 respirator mask, available at most drugstores and medical supply stores, will block 95% of small particles, such as pollen and other allergens.
If you keep your home warmer than 70 degrees and at a humidity greater than 50 percent, you’re creating a perfect breeding ground for dust mites. To regulate your humidity, it should be between 40 and 45 percent. Use a dehumidifier or home hygrometer to measure humidity levels.
Although the last thing you want to do when you feel crummy is a workout, exercise helps reduce allergy symptoms. Moderate to intense activity for just 30 minutes can result in substantial allergy relief. Relief occurs because exercise produces an anti-inflammatory effect in your nasal passages, helping to naturally reduce allergy symptoms.
If pollen counts are extremely high, an indoor workout will most likely be more beneficial as it will reduce exposure.
It’s true that certain foods can, in fact, make your seasonal allergies worse. Alcohol, peanuts, sugar, processed, foods, wheat, and chocolate are known culprits that act as hay fever catalyst. People also find relief in limiting foods that increase sensitivity to mucus production, such as conventional dairy products and gluten. Additionally, if you are aware of a ragweed allergy, avoid melons, bananas, cucumbers, and sunflower seeds, as they can cause itching of the mouth and tongue.
Nasal Irrigation may look weird, but it can provide much-needed allergy relief. By squirting a saline solution (distilled or previously boiled water plus salt and baking soda) up to one nostril and out the other, you flush out allergens and extra mucus from your nostrils and sinuses. Saline nasal irrigation is very effective at cleansing the nasal passages of pollen, dust, and other irritants and allergens.
Acupuncture treats a wide variety of health issues, including depression, digestive issues, pain, muscle weakness, and immune deficiency. A study in the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reveals it can help naturally reduce allergy symptoms.
These medications are the mainstay for treating the sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes that come with allergies. Antihistamines also relieve hives and control itching associated with eczema.
When allergies make your nose stuffed up, a decongestant can help. Decongestants shrink swollen blood vessels and tissues, which relieves the congestion. However, decongestants can’t help with your sneezing or itching, and may raise blood pressure.
Your allergist custom-makes a formulation to match your allergies with injected immunotherapy. The benefits of shots are similar to those of Sublingual Immunotherapy (SLIT), but results can last for decades. You start with weekly shots for approximately 6 months, followed by monthly shots for 3 to 5 years. After each injection, you must wait in the doctor’s office for half an hour to monitor for a rare body-wide reaction.
When to See a Doctor
If you’re really bothered by allergies, even after cleaning your home and trying the natural methods, your best bet is to see a board-certified allergist-immunologist in Boca Raton, like Dr. Amy Schiffman. She can facilitate allergy testing, prescribe medications, and explore long-term treatment options such as allergy shots.
Also, knowing your triggers is an excellent way to control your seasonal allergy. Make an appointment with Dr. Amy Schiffman for an allergy skin test to pinpoint your triggers. Then, she can discuss with you the plan to avoid them.