By taking control of your seasonal allergies, you can actually enjoy the outdoors this spring. Here are some tips to keep your symptoms at bay.
For some, spring weather brings a much-needed respite from all the snow and cold, with the blooming flowers, warmer weather, and budding green trees all cause for rejoicing. For others, spring means coughing, sneezing, watery and itchy eyes, and other unbearable symptoms that accompany allergies.
But no one should have to dread a season change. By taking some simple precautionary steps, you can lessen your allergy symptoms and have a better shot at enjoying what springtime has to offer. Here's how to prevent allergies, before and after spring officially rolls around.
The best offense is a good defense. Meet with an allergy specialist to develop an allergy defense strategy, which may include lifestyle changes, good habits to practice, and medications. Even if you've met with a specialist in the past, yearly visits give you an opportunity to fine-tune your usual allergy plan and learn about the newest medications and treatments for long-term relief.
Common spring allergy triggers, including pollen and mold spores, make their appearance in some parts of the country as early as February. Pollen can come from oak, elm, birch, or maple trees, or different types of grass. Figuring out your specific allergy trigger sources can help you and your doctor tailor your treatment plan throughout the whole spring allergy season—which can last until October.
Focus on areas in your home where pollen collects. Change air filters, wash bedding, clean drapes, and vacuum your carpet. Then, after your home is all clean and allergen-free, try to keep your windows closed so that pollen doesn't get back in.
Allergy symptoms are harder to stop once they've started, so being proactive is key. Some medications, such as Nasonex and Flonase, take a few weeks to fully kick in, which means you need to start taking them before the season begins in order for them to be the most effective. And antihistamines, such as Claritin and Allegra, especially work better when taken in advance of allergy symptoms.
Pollen gets most of the attention when it comes to spring allergies, but mold spores can trigger equally unpleasant symptoms. Start with keeping moisture inside your house to a minimum so that mold doesn't have an environment in which to thrive. Instead of using a humidifier, try a dehumidifier, and turn on your central air conditioning. Mold can trigger allergies all year long, so be extra diligent against mold in places where it grows most frequently, such as your bathroom, kitchen, basement, and laundry room.
Once allergy season is here, it's important to keep doing what you've been doing. Being consistent with your medicine routine is vital in keeping seasonal allergies at bay.
Additionally, wash your clothes as soon as you can after wear. Allergens settle on clothes during springtime, so keeping a stack of laundry will undo any extensive cleaning you've done around the house. Showering before bed can help wash the pollen off your hair and skin—and keep it out of your bed.
Keep track of the pollen count, which is usually listed on weather websites or newscasts. On days when it's high or during the times of day when it's highest—typically 5–10 a.m.—try to stay indoors if possible.
For more advice on how to prevent and treat seasonal allergies, talk to your Rite Aid Pharmacist and visit the Rite Aid Allergy Solution Center.
By Joelle Klein
National Jewish Health, Steps to Get Ahead of the Spring Allergy Season
Harvard Health, The secret to an easier allergy season
Mayo Clinic, Seasonal allergies: Nip them in the bud
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, Common Seasonal Allergy Triggers
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Mold Allergy
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.