With Spring sprung, those suffering from seasonal allergies know that it’s never too early to begin preparations. While allergy season doesn’t typically begin till around mid to late May, it’s important to begin thinking up ways to combat your allergies before your symptoms (namely inflammation) gets out of hand. Those who suffer yearly know how miserable it can be to sit through a sore throat, stuffy nose, or itch day after day without relief… But have no fear, we have some allergy season tips and tricks for you!
Know the Difference
Before you can combat those allergy symptoms, you should have an idea of what you’re looking for. Sneezing, dry cough, itchiness around your eyes, nose, and throat are typically signs of allergies while fever and sore throat are definitely symptoms of a cold.
Cold symptoms usually only last a few days – 3 to 5 – while untreated allergy symptoms can last weeks and generally start up in either May or September.
Consider Allergy Medication
To begin with, most people take over the counter allergy medication. Zyrtec, Allegra, Claritin, and Benadryl are all taken by mouth, but the former three have far fewer side effects. Benadryl generally makes you drowsy and doesn’t last a full 24 hours, meaning it might not be your best choice for daily use.
That said, as a general rule of thumb, something that worked for you, might not work for your friend and vice versa. Just like any medication, it’s crucial to be patient and take the time to figure out what works best for you.
If an OTC pill isn’t working, consider pairing it with a nasal spray. There are several over the counter nasal steroids that are totally safe for use like Flonase, Nasacort, and Rhinocort. These often must be taken for a little while before you begin seeing results.
Say ‘No’ to Decongestants
Long term use of decongestants is definitely no good – it can raise your blood pressure for one thing. Similarly, your body will adjust itself accordingly and get used to it. Nasal decongestants are fairly addictive, making them dangerous for daily or frequent use.
The Key to Medication
Be proactive. Begin taking allergy medication a few weeks before the worst of your symptoms begin. For Spring allergies, start in early April and for fall, August. It’s important to pay attention so that you can get a jump on your allergy. Of course, if you haven’t begun just yet, that’s not to say you’ll just have to power through it. Just take something as soon as you can and keep up with it – you’ll likely be feeling better in a matter of hours.
Don’t let allergens pile up in your home. Start the season with a deep cleaning and create a manageable cleaning schedule to stick to from there. Vacuuming and dusting are a given but don’t forget to wash linens, rugs, and curtains and definitely don’t hang them outside to dry. Wipe down blinds and other surfaces… And don’t forget to get in those hard to reach places. It’s important to remember that pollen and dust and all of those sneaky little allergens can travel with you all day.
Clean Your Body Too!
That said, it’s important to make sure that you’re showering daily – wiping off the grime of the day of course but also keeping your outside triggers from coming inside. Take off your shoes at the door, shower, and change your clothes the second you come home to minimize exposure. And if you have furry friends, remember to clean them off often too. Be cognizant of what your dog or cat might be tracking in with them outside of their usual dander and hair.
Avoid going outside on dry windy days when pollen runs rampant, and if you must, consider a pollen mask. Yard work might be better left to someone else and if you love to run, consider rescheduling your daily exercise for later on in the evening – pollen counts are higher in the morning.
Use the air conditioner in your car and in your home and keep up with proper maintenance and resist the urge to open your windows during cool summer nights.
Don’t Sleep on Indoor Allergies
Lastly, don’t forget about all of your indoor allergy triggers just because you’re so focused on all of your outdoor ones. It’s important to dry and combat both by keeping your home as allergen-free as possible. Purchase yourself a dehumidifier or HEPA filter. Water plants with an ice cube fix leaks to minimize dampness and the potential of mold.
Visit an Allergist
The best way to manage allergies is to know exactly what you’re allergic to. If nothing seems to do the trick, it might be high time to visit an allergist and have them give you a skin test. prescription for something stronger or recommend some other changes that you can make to your daily routine to keep allergies at bay. A more personalized treatment plan might be the best way to keep you congestion free.