25 April 2023
Spring is so glorious with its trees in bud and bloom and early flowers popping out of the ground. However, it is not so pleasant if you suffer with seasonal allergies. Sometimes called hay fever or allergic rhinitis, this can be a miserable time of runny nose, sneezing, and respiratory distress.
Although we are mostly post Covid, coughing can still have people looking at you and keeping a cautious distance. If you have a fever or any other concerns, take a Covid screening to be sure you won’t need medical intervention.
If you do have allergies, try to minimize your exposure.
- Stay indoors as much as possible and keep your windows closed. Rain will help settle the pollen from the air, so going out after a shower may be okay.
- Wear a face mask when outdoors or if you are among other people.
- Avoid gardening that will stir up the pollens. Pulling weeds not only distributes the grains, but disturbs the soil that can generate dust, which doesn’t help.
- Shower more frequently to remove any pollen from your skin and hair.
- Freshly laundered clothing smells so good when line dried, except that the pollen loves to attach to sheets, towels, and other items.
Pay careful attention to the weather broadcasts or check the national weather service (forecast.weather.gov) for your area. If the pollen count is expected to be high, take extra precautions. Start using your allergy medications before you feel that you need them. Keep windows closed tightly and put a barrier over any gaps between exterior doors and your home. The early morning is when the pollen is at its greatest, so you may want to adjust your exercise schedule and take your daily walk or run in the afternoon.
You may not be able to control the environment outside or in public areas, but for your own home, check your HVAC to be sure the filters are rated for high efficiency. Change them regularly. Incorporate a portable air filtration system that uses a HEPA filter, at least in your bedroom at night. Vacuum frequently and be sure the cleaner uses a HEPA filter.
There are a number of nonprescription drugs that ease the sneeze. Oral antihistamines include cetirizine, fexofenadine, and loratadine. Oral decongestants like pseudoephedrine and others that combine with antihistamines may work. Check with your primary care provider, allergist, or ENT about which may be the best for your symptoms.
Nasal sprays like Flonase contain steroids and are not recommended for long term use. Again, consult with your medical team about applicability. Cromolyn sodium blocks the release of agents that cause the symptoms. They are effective but best if started before the symptoms begin and used 4 to 6 times a day. Using a saline nasal spray can also help by rinsing the sinuses.
For many individuals, these OTC remedies are just not enough. That is when you need to make an appointment to be tested for specifics and determine the exact triggers. It may be that allergy shots are the answer. Regular injections of the offensive trigger are introduced to the person’s system. Over time, the body adjusts to these substances and the reactions are greatly reduced if not eliminated.