Chase Away Your Allergy Symptoms for a Carefree Spring
Chirping birds won’t be the only sound you hear this spring. More than 50 million Americans will be sneezing and wheezing, thanks to seasonal allergies. And if spring comes early again this year, allergy symptoms will be intense and last longer than average.
“Relief might seem impossible as pollen counts soar, but by knowing what triggers symptoms and how to avoid these allergens, sufferers can lead healthy, active lifestyles with minimal side effects,” says allergist Richard Weber, md, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. “Although symptoms may not always be severe, seasonal allergies are a serious condition that should be properly diagnosed and treated.”
While there are common rules to live by in the spring, such as keeping your windows closed, there are lesser-known spring allergy elements that can actually increase your symptoms. To help those with seasonal allergies cope this spring, we’re unveiling five surprising spring allergy facts you might not know about.
Not only will April’s showers bring more flowers; they might also cause more symptoms for people with spring allergies.
1 One Pollen, Two Pollen, Three
Every year is labeled as the worst for allergy symptoms, and there could be some truth to that. According to a recent study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, pollen counts slowly rise annually and are expected to double by the year 2040. This is due to economic growth, global environment sustainability, temperature, and human-induced changes (such as increased levels of carbon dioxide).
2 Home Sweet Hay Fever
Where you live can influence the severity of your symptoms. For example, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has ranked Knoxville, TN, as the Spring Allergy Capital for three years in a row. However, no matter where you live, allergies can be a problem all year long for some people. Talk with your allergist about treatment options and for tips on how to eliminate allergy triggers in your home environment.
3 Treat Before You Sneeze
You should start taking your allergy medication well before the first sneeze. Allergists recommend you begin treating two weeks before your symptoms typically surface. And while there isn’t a cure for spring allergies, there is something close. Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, can modify and prevent disease progression.
4 Pollens and Molds and Weeds,
A mild winter may cause an early release of pollens from certain trees, and a longer season may be worsened by what is known as the priming effect. Once people with allergies are exposed to this early pollen, their immune system is primed to react to the allergens, meaning there will be little relief even if temperatures cool down before spring is in full bloom. If weather reports call for a streak of warm days, go ahead and begin taking your allergy medication.
5 April Showers Bring More
Not only will April’s showers bring more flowers; they might also cause more symptoms for people with spring allergies. Rain can promote plant and pollen growth. And wind accompanying a rainfall can stir pollen and mold into the air, which also heightens symptoms.
Spring Allergy Rules to Live By
Know your triggers. You may think that pollen is causing your symptoms, but other substances may be involved as well. More than two-thirds of seasonal allergy fighters actually have year-round symptoms. An allergist can help you track down the source of your sniffles.
Monitor pollen and mold counts – most media outlets report this information during allergy seasons.
Keep windows and doors shut at home, and in your car, during allergy season.
Stay inside during midday and afternoon hours, which is when pollen counts are highest.
Take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes after being outdoors.
Wear a mask when doing outdoor chores like mowing the lawn.
Anyone with allergies and asthma should be able to feel good, be active all day, and sleep well at night. No one should accept less. If you suspect you have seasonal allergies, you can locate an allergist in your area by visiting AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org.
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, acaai.org
This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, March/April 2013.