After what seemed like a winter that was NEVER going to end, the warmer weather has finally showed up, but unfortunately it’s brought it’s always-reliable-allergies with it. Every day I wake up, check the pollen index, and hope to magically see that it’s nothing but it always seems to rank very high. There are many, MANY different things floating around it our air this time of year to be allergic to. You could only be allergic to one or two things, but if you’re like me, you are allergic to almost everything outside your door. Because it’s not feasible to spend the next 3 months inside all the time (no matter how much that might help), let’s talk about a few ways to make our lives a little bit easier…
Let’s start with the obvious: Avoid ‘em
Unfortunately it’s not possible to completely avoid most spring & summer allergens, but you can reduce your exposure to them a great deal. The hours between 10am – 4pm are the highest with pollen, so try to stay inside during that time. Of course – this is easier said that done for some. If you work an office job it’ll be pretty easy to avoid the outdoors during the day, but if you don’t it might be a little more difficult. It might be difficult to avoid the outdoors if that’s where you like to exercise as well. This is my biggest problem, because I’m a runner who hates the treadmill. When I run during the spring & summer, I try my best to do it in the early morning or around 7-8pm.
Play offense, not defense
In most cases you normally wait for symptoms to appear before you take any medicine, but in this one don’t wait. There are a lot OTC allergy medications and don’t be afraid to use them. You know that you’re going to have allergies so it’s best not to put anything off – you don’t want to let yourself suffer! Shut your windows & turn the air conditioning on. Yes, this is going to cost more money than trying to tough it out BUT you’ll thank yourself when you can breathe in your own home. I find this especially important at night. If I try to sleep with the windows open, I wake up completely stuffed up & unable to breathe. It’s really not worth it.
There are quite a range of allergy pills on the market so if you try one and it doesn’t work for you, don’t write off all allergy medication. It’s possible that the one you tried isn’t what you need. It’s also possible that a medication that worked for you for years just stopped working, so if you think you’re a certain brand devotee and all-the-sudden find yourself sneezing everywhere, you might have just gotten used to that medication & it’s time to switch.
This isn’t probably what we want to hear but cleaning really does help. Dust & vacuum your home often, and change your air conditioning filters regularly. Consider getting an air purifier to help collect the allergens from the air, and be sure to clean that regularly as well. If you are having a day where you are feeling particularly congested or itchy, hop in the shower if you can. It will not only help to clean the allergens off but the steam should clear your sinuses a bit.
See A Doctor
This isn’t going to be needed for everyone, but for those of us with severe allergies (myself included) you might want to look into seeing an allergist. You can be tested for different allergens to see what exactly you are allergic to, which helps to give you some clarity for your symptoms. Often “outdoor allergens” are lumped together, but there are so many different types and depending on the day different allergens might be stronger than others. If you find you are allergic to trees but not ragweed, for instance, on the days where the ragweed index is low you might be able to spend the whole day outside and feel great, even though the tree allergens are high. The allergist can prescribe you medication as well, and often they will be stronger than what you can buy over the counter, so it really is worth looking into.