Nobody said allergies would be fun, but you never thought it would be this bad. What if you had some simple ways to avoid the sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes, and runny nose that come along once the weather starts to warm up? Here are five things you can do to feel better during spring allergy season. (Bonus: These tips will work for your summer allergies, as well.)
1. Let the spring cleaning begin.
Sweeping up the cobwebs that gathered over the winter is good for more than just making your house look better. A deep house scrub can help eliminate existing allergens and clear the air. It’s especially important to get rid of mold, which builds up in bathrooms and basements and is a major allergen – especially in spring months when there’s lots of moisture. Because your pets have spent a lot of time indoors over the winter, fur, saliva, and dander have probably collected. Vacuuming often and washing upholstery and pet beds can help.
2. Get to the source of your symptoms.
Some people with allergies may not realize that symptoms they think are allergy-related might actually be asthma. Studies have shown that nearly two-thirds of those with asthma also have an allergy, which can make the spring season particularly difficult. If you can’t get rid of a cough, or you get winded easily, you might have asthma related to allergies. You should see your doctor or an allergist who can identify the source of your asthma, and help you treat your allergies to improve symptoms.
Spring comes and you just want to open your windows and let in the fresh air. Don’t do it. Opening your windows allows pollen to drift inside.
3. Clear the air – the right way.
Despite what you may have heard, the best way to clean the air in your home is not with an ionic air filter. The ionization changes the charge on a particle of pollen or dust and the particle sticks to the next thing it encounters, often a wall or other surface. There is usually not enough air flow to effectively filter many particles, so ionic filters don’t offer much benefit for allergy fighters. There is also a health risk which comes from the ozone they produce. The best way to clean the air is with a HEPA room air cleaner rated with a Clean Air Delivery Rate. If you have central air, change your air filters every three months, and use filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12.
4. Wait, don’t smell that “fresh” air.
Spring comes and you just want to open your windows and let in the fresh air. Don’t do it. Opening your windows allows pollen to drift inside, settle into your carpet, furniture, and upholstery, and continue to make you miserable. So, keep your house and car windows shut during allergy season. Instead, to cool things off and circulate some air, use your air conditioning – with the new air filter you just put in.
5. Be wary of “Dr. Google.”
You know you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet, but it’s so tempting to look up cures for your symptoms. Instead of turning to “Dr. Google,” consult your actual doctor, or an allergist. They can suggest the proper medications to treat your allergies and asthma. You might even benefit from allergy shots (also called immunotherapy), which can greatly alleviate your allergy symptoms.
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org
This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, Spring/Summer 2017.