Sneezy Days Ahead
Non-medical tips to fight spring allergies
As the snow drops and crocuses poke their beautiful little heads through the soil, so does the pollen count. In fact most of the flowers we anticipate all winter long are the ones that contain small and light pollens that are easily carried by the wind, and cause allergy symptoms. Seasonal allergic rhinitis (or "hay fever") affects more than one-fifth of North Americans. To most of us this is a signal to keep a tissue box handy!
This leaves many of us asking: isn’t there an easier way to reduce spring allergies? Well, the good news is that there are many over-the-counter methods that you can count on to do the trick. Here are some easy-breezy non-medicinal strategies that can offer you some allergy relief:
- First of all, spring clean! Your home can collect dust and mold over the winter, while the windows are shut. Dust and mold are common irritants for both allergy and asthma.
- If it’s your turn to mow the lawn or weed the garden, wear a filter mask.
- Once your house is clean, stay in it! If you reduce your outdoor activities while pollen counts are at the highest, you can reduce your symptoms. In general, this means being indoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Keep pollen out by shutting windows, especially when pollen counts are highest. This helps keep indoor air cleaner.
- Love the smell of clothes from the clothes line? Unfortunately, this is another way that you bring pollen into your home and into your airways. Dry laundry with a clothes dryer or on indoor drying racks if you’re trying to conserve energy.
- Did you know that you take a lot of the pollen indoors with you? Showering and washing your hair before hitting the hay can be a simple way to reduce pollen exposure.
- One of the simplest and easiest ways to avoid exposure to allergens is to wash your bedding weekly in hot water. You’ll also keep dust mites down.
- Pets also bring the outdoors inside, so keep Fido off the furniture and out of the bedroom.
- If you can, drive with your car windows closed to keep pollen from becoming a passenger. If possible, keep air conditioning vents pointed away from your face.
- Going outside? Got antihistamines? Take any medications for your allergies before going outside! In fact, you should take medication at least 30-minutes before going outside to help avoid a reaction.
News Release, March 22, 2006
American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (ACAAI)