More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year. Some people—such as those who suffer from perennial allergic rhinitis—experience allergy symptoms year round. For many others, seasonal allergies—or allergic rhinitis—tend to flare up in spring, summer and early fall.
From itchy eyes to excessive sneezing and blocked nasal packages, allergy season can be a real challenge for many Americans. If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from this condition, knowing how to treat seasonal allergies effectively could prevent a lot of discomfort and save your summer.
Top Tips to Limit Seasonal Allergies
The best way to limit your symptoms is to try and prevent them from occurring in the first place. When pollen counts are high, this can seem like an impossible task but with a bit of careful planning and good old-fashioned know-how, it can be done. And, more importantly, it can have a significant effect on your comfort and well-being during the dreaded pollen season.
Understand your allergy triggers
When it comes to seasonal allergies, different people have different triggers. Understanding which culprits cause an allergic reaction for you is therefore key.
Common triggers for allergies include:
- Grass pollen
- Tree pollen
- Pet dander
- Dust mites
- Mold spores
As you can probably guess, the types of allergens you experience indoors can be present year-round but the outdoor ones such as grass and tree pollen are more present in Spring and Summer while mold and mildew are more common in the Fall and Winter. People can have allergies to more than one thing at the same time, so it’s important to understand what triggers your allergic reactions.
The first port of call should be to contact your healthcare provider or primary care physician who can advise you on the allergy tests you may need to undertake. They may conduct blood tests to help determine what allergens are problematic for you. In some cases, they may also refer you to an allergist for specialist testing.
Limit your exposure to allergens
Once you have figured out what things are triggering your allergies, you can control your exposure to them. With just a few lifestyle tweaks and by implementing some good habits, you can significantly reduce your exposure to the things that cause your symptoms.
Some good avoidance practices for seasonal allergies include:
- Keeping up to date with the pollen forecasts
- Avoid going outside on days where the pollen count is high
- Close your windows when there is a high pollen count
- Avoid being outdoors on dry and windy days
- Avoid touching your eyes when outside (and wash your hands as soon as you come inside)
- Shower and change your clothes after being outdoors
- Avoid mowing the lawn
- Don’t hang your laundry to dry outside
- Use an air conditioner in your home (look for air conditioning systems with a HEPA filter)
- Use an air purifier in the bedroom
- Leave your shoes at the door when you come in from outside
Top tips: Pets can also bring pollen into the home on their fur. So even if you aren’t allergic to pet hair, your cat or dog could cause a flare-up in symptoms.
Be mindful of indoor allergens
If some indoor allergens are also a trigger for you, consider implementing the following avoidance tactics:
- Vacuum regularly (twice a week) with a high quality vacuum cleaner (if you are not the one doing the vacuuming, wear a mask to decrease exposure to dust)
- Wash your bedding regularly at high temperatures
- If possible, avoid having pets
- If you do have pets, keep them out of the bedroom and wash their bed, clothes and toys regularly. There are potentially other ways to decrease the allergens associated with your pet. Discuss with your veterinarian.
- Avoid having wall-to-wall carpets if possible
- Reduce exposure to mold spores by using dehumidifiers
- Treat any damp areas or household leaks
- Clean moldy surfaces as soon as possible
- Eliminate cockroaches (don’t leave any food uncovered or garbage uncovered)
How to treat seasonal allergy symptoms
If you’ve followed our advice so far, you will hopefully have limited your exposure to the things that cause you trouble. Of course, it’s not always possible to avoid exposure to certain allergens. So, when the inevitable happens and you start to experience a stuffy nose, itchy eyes and all those delightful symptoms, it’s handy to have a plan of attack in place for allergy treatment.
Getting ahead of your allergies can save you a lot of pain and discomfort. If the forecast is suggesting that the pollen count will be high, take your allergy medication before you experience any symptoms.
Over-the-counter allergy medications
Seasonal allergies are very common so there are plenty of treatments available, many of which you can get at your local supermarket or pharmacy. Some medications and treatments focus on specific symptoms while others work to combat the overall impact of seasonal allergies.
Some readily available over-the-counter allergy medications include:
- Antihistamine tablets (includes oral antihistamines like Zyrtec and Allegra)
- Nasal steroid sprays and corticosteroids for runny nose and nasal congestion (like Flonase and Nasacort)
- Cromolyn sodium nasal sprays
- *Oral decongestants such as Claritin D and Sudafed (see below)
- Eye drops
It’s important to remember that all drugs and medications have potential side effects. So make sure you carefully read the label and adhere to all guidance before taking any medicine for allergies. *Individuals with hypertension or high blood pressure should discuss medication with their doctor and/or pharmacist as some types may increase blood pressure.
Immunotherapy for allergy relief
Immunotherapy—also known as allergy shots—is thought to reduce hay fever symptoms in about 85% of people. As a preventative, anti-inflammatory treatment, it involves gradually giving people increasing doses of the allergen or substance to which they are allergic. Over time, this causes the immune system to be less sensitive to the substance which minimizes allergy symptoms.
Natural remedies for allergy relief
Sinus blockage is a key symptom of allergic rhinitis and many people find that rinsing out the nasal passage with a Neti Pot provides significant relief. If a Neti Pot is used it must be kept meticulously clean to avoid fungus, mold and mildew growth which could be transferred to the nasal passages during use. Saline solutions can be bought from pharmacies and supermarkets but it’s also possible to make an at-home solution with water, salt and baking soda.
Top tip: To avoid infection, use bottled water instead of tap water.
H2: Struggling with Seasonal Allergies? Talk to Your Doctor!
If you struggle with seasonal allergies, there’s no reason you should have to put up with a stuffy nose or watery eyes for months on end. For help controlling your hay fever or seasonal allergies, make an online appointment with one of the Babylon physicians today.