Managing Seasonal Allergies
Grace Weatherby
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2023

Managing Seasonal Allergies

The arrival of spring is always something to be celebrated in New England. But if you’re one of the more than 100 million Americans who suffer from allergies, your enthusiasm may be more than a bit tempered.

That’s because spring is one of the times of the year when trees, grasses, and weeds produce pollen grains that frequently travel by the wind and find their way into your eyes, nose, and lungs. If your body perceives pollen as something harmful, it may overreact and trigger a wide range of allergy symptoms including: sneezing; itchy, inflamed eyes; runny or stuffy nose; headaches; fatigue; sore throat; congestion; and coughing. 

While there’s no cure for seasonal allergies, there are a number of very effective over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines and nasal steroids, that can provide relief.

In addition, there are steps you can take to reduce your body’s reaction to pollen and keep symptoms at bay. These include:

  • Begin taking allergy medication before pollen season begins. This pre-emptive approach allows the medication to prevent your body from overreacting when you encounter pollen.
  • Plan your outdoor activities to avoid high pollen counts that occur during midday or afternoons.
  • Wear a pollen mask or dust mask when pollen counts are high or during outdoor activities such as mowing the lawn.
  • Keep home and car windows closed during pollen season.
  • Use central air conditioning or air cleaners with HEPA filtration to capture any pollen that may enter your home through doors, windows, on your clothes, and on pets.
  • Wear sunglasses and cover your hair when outside. 
  • Rinse eyes with cool water or saline eyedrops to remove clinging pollen after coming indoors. For severe itching, use allergy eyedrops.
  • Change and wash your clothes as soon as you come in from outside to avoid tracking pollen in your home. If counts are high, you may want to shower as soon as you come in, too. At the very least, shower daily before bed to keep pollen off your sheets and bedding.
  • Dry your clothes in a clothes dryer or inside, not on an outdoor line.
  • Track pollen counts and forecasts and plan accordingly. Visit pollen.aaaai.org or Weather.com for local pollen reports.

If you’re still suffering after trying these measures and OTC medication, contact your doctor.

 

Dagmar Tobits, MD practices family medicine at SVMC’s Deerfield Valley Campus.

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