According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), pollen season can begin as early as February and last through October. If you are someone who must put up with symptoms such as sneezing, stuffiness, sinus headaches, and itchy, watery eyes every year at this time, you should begin taking steps to prevent your allergies from activating your immune symptoms now.
Start Taking Medication Early
Ideally, you should start taking allergy medications like Claritin, Nasacort, or Flonase early in the season, before pollen peaks. This could mean February for most of the US, and January in the Southern states like Florida.
See an Allergist Before Spring Allergy Symptoms Begin
Don’t wait until you’re feeling miserable before calling the doctor. Every year there are newer treatments, or combinations of therapies, that may offer renewed hope for feeling better.
Keep Your Home Clear of Pollens
Although it may be tempting to open the windows and let in the ‘spring breeze,’ those with allergy symptoms must keep doors and windows closed to shut our pollens. When doing spring cleaning, focus on areas where pollens can accumulate: air filters, carpeting, bedding, and upholstery. Buy a vacuum with a HEPA filter and use it often.
Keep Pollen off your Person
This means be especially aware of the pollen that can stick to your body as you are outdoors during the day. When you get home after a day out, throw your clothes in the hamper. You have pollen all over the fabric of your clothing, and you could end up spreading pollen spores around your home. Then, take a shower. Hair can be an especially sticky place for pollen to hide, so make sure to wash your hair thoroughly. If you go to bed with pollen in your hair and transfer if to your pillow, you will be breathing it in directly all night. Change into clean clothes to wear around the house.
Mold-Proof Your Home
It turns out pollen isn’t the only bad guy when it comes to spring allergies – mold can also send your symptoms haywire. The AAAAI recommends keeping mold out of your home by focusing on areas where mold is most common – basements, bathrooms, kitchens, and areas with leaks.
Remover mold from hard surfaces with water and detergent, or 5% bleach in water. Wash fabric with plain old soap and water. IF mold does not go away, throw out the fabric.
Avoid Peak Allery Times
As much as you can, try to avoid spending time outdoors during peak pollen hours. On most days this means 5am to 10am. Also, the pollen count will be higher on hot, dry days than on cold, rainy days.
Get an Allergy Tracker
There are free Apps available for download, such as WebMD Allergy and ZYRTEC AllergyCast, which will not only show you the level of various airborne allergens in your local area every day but will also allow you to track your symptoms. These can be very useful when planning when the best times to go outdoors vs. when to stay in. You can also share your symptom information with your doctor when strategizing treatment options.
Consider Nasal Irrigation (Neti Pot)
Irrigating your nose and sinuses using a neti pot helps to wash the spring allergens out of your nose and provides a significant amount of relief from allergy symptoms – particularly sinus pressure, headaches, and sneezing. It also helps with hoarseness, post-nasal drip, and feeling run-down, because it protects your sinus membranes. This NY Times article explores the benefits of nasal irrigation for allergy symptoms.
*Be sure to use bottled or filtered water in your neti pot. Use of tap water has been linked to dangerous brain infections.
Try Acupuncture for Spring Allergies
If you are willing to take the leap of faith and try acupuncture, make sure that you go regularly to see results. This means having treatments 2-3 times per week for at least 4 weeks. Acupuncture theory is based on the concept that all illness is based on internal “imbalance,” and so all treatment seeks to correct the underlying imbalance. Start treatments early if you want to be proactive about treating your allergies, but acupuncture can help even if you are already experiencing symptoms. Just understand that you will need to continue treatment through the allergy season (ideally year-round) to maintain improvements.
If you want to give this concept a try at home, you can download the free ALLERGY Acupressure Treatment App. It will direct you in “instant acupressure self-treatment with Chinese massage points.” Basically, you are massaging the points on your body rather than inserting a needle, so this is a way to get some relief independently.
Asthma and Allergy Specialist in New York
Dr. Mayank Shukla has been using the latest diagnostic technology to help his patients manage their allergies for more than 15 years. If you think you may have allergies and want to consult with an asthma and allergy specialist in New York, contact us today!