5 Seasonal Allergy Mistakes You Don't Want to Make
Grace Weatherby
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2024

5 Seasonal Allergy Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you’re probably already taking medication and other measures to keep the sneezing, sniffling all around suffering to a minimum. However, there are some common daily habits that may be working against you.  Here’s a look at 5 things that may be aggravating your allergy symptoms. 

1.  Bringing pollen hitchhikers into your home

Allergens like pollen cling to your shoes and clothes. Removing your shoes as soon as you come into the house will prevent you from tracking pollen into every room. The same goes for clothes. If you have serious allergies, changing your clothes as soon as you come in and throwing them in the wash can help keep symptoms—and pollen—at bay.

2. Wearing contacts

If you wear contacts, switch to eyeglasses when the pollen count is high. Soft contacts are permeable and can absorb pollen and other irritants. If you must wear contacts, opt for disposables and toss them after high pollen days to avoid re-introducing pollen to your eyes on the next wear.

3. Spending too much time poolside

The smell of chlorine from a swimming pool can irritate the nasal airways and lungs and aggravate allergy symptoms. Pollen can also accumulate on the surface of pool water and transfer into your eyes and nose. If you suffer from seasonal allergies and spend a lot of time in or near a pool, be sure to rinse yourself regularly throughout the day and shower thoroughly once you head inside for good.

4. Ignoring Pollen Counts

One of the biggest mistakes allergy sufferers make is not keeping an eye on pollen counts. Pollen levels can vary from day to day, so it’s essential to stay informed. Check your local weather forecast or use a pollen tracker app to know when levels are high. On those days, try to stay indoors as much as possible, especially during the morning when pollen levels tend to be highest.

5. Not Showering Before Bed

Taking a shower before bed can make a big difference for allergy sufferers. Pollen and other allergens can accumulate on your skin and in your hair throughout the day, so washing them away before you hit the sheets can help you breathe easier while you sleep.

While these simple changes to your habits and routines may not completely resolve your allergy issues, they may help minimize symptoms.

If allergies are interfering with your daily living, talk to your doctor about next steps.

 

Nicholas Wild, MD practices family medicine at SVHC’s Northshire Campus in Manchester, VT.

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How to Become a Mask Wearer

Long before COVID-19, online chat groups for people with pulmonary fibrosis (PF) were filled with posts about how uncomfortable it is to wear a mask in public: not physically uncomfortable, a fact that was barely mentioned, but psychologically uncomfortable. For people with this condition or the lung transplant used to cure it, catching a cold or the flu could be deadly. They need to wear masks in public to help protect themselves from getting ill.

The participants discussed how awkward it is riding the bus in a mask, going to the grocery store in a mask, or boarding a plane while wearing one. They were mostly self-conscious that others would think they were ill or weak. Many would rather suffer the risk of getting fatally sick than put a mask on in a department store.

Now, we've all been directed to wear masks in public. Both Bennington and Wilmington's Select Boards have passed local mandates requiring masks in public places. This—along with distancing and handwashing—are crucial parts of returning to a more normal way of life. Suddenly, we are all feeling the psychological discomfort PF patients have felt for many years.

People usually have an interest in blending in. And, just like doing anything out of the ordinary, wearing a mask for the first time definitely feels like putting yourself out there. If we want to return to a somewhat normal way of life, masks are crucially important, along with frequent, thorough handwashing and keeping a distance from others.

Here are a few tips for making the leap from being someone nervous about wearing a mask to being a person who wears one regularly.

Do it for others. We know that people can spread COVID-19 as many as a few days before they get sick. Even if you feel fine, you could have COVID-19 right now without knowing it. At the same time, masks are far better at keeping sick people from spreading germs than they are at keeping people from getting sick. So wearing a mask isn't a sign of weakness; it's a sign of altruism. It's like saying, "I am not certain that I am not sick, so I want to pay those around me the consideration of limiting the likelihood I will infect them." Think of it as a badge of kindness.

Get a mask that fits. We know that masks are not completely comfortable physically. Getting the right fit makes a big difference in their "wearability." Cloth masks are readily available online and from local groups. The Green Mountain Mask Makers have excellent information and resources. If you can, purchase a few types in a few sizes to see which you like best. Buy enough of that type to allow washing between trips out in public.

Get a mask that you like. Once you have found a mask source and as long as you have a choice, pick one that you like. You can choose colors that match your wardrobe or that represent your interests, like camouflage. There are even masks that look like fashionable scarves when they hang around your neck. The sooner we start thinking of masks as part of our outfits, as essential and unremarkable as shoes or a belt, the healthier we will all be.

Try to quit caring about what others think. This one is hard. But one wise PF patient wrote, "I just don't give a darn!" Essentially, he shared that if people want to judge him for wearing a mask, so be it. Their opinions don't have a single thing to do with him. Many in the chat group applauded his confidence and vowed to adopt his attitude.

If we all do our best, soon the cultural scale will tip. Wearing a mask or not wearing one will cease to be a political statement. It will be normal. And thankfully, if wearing a mask in public, handwashing and sanitizing, and keeping our distance are all normal, going out into public again can be safe and normal too.

Donna Barron, RN, is the infection preventionist at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

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