Spring is a stunning season full of life as plants grow, flowers bloom and the sun shines. The downside of this abundance of beauty is seasonal allergens. Pollen from all those growing and blooming plants spreads via warm breezes and can make you feel awful.
“Allergic rhinitis, commonly called hay fever, has been around for hundreds of years, causing symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, mouth or skin, runny nose, and congestion,” said Dr. Mark Corbett, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “Your symptoms often depend on which pollens you’re allergic to.”
Allergists can help identify precisely what is causing you problems so you can take appropriate action based on your individual needs. Along with taking your history and conducting an exam, allergists conduct tests to identify your specific allergens and treat your symptoms to help you take control. Testing for hay fever typically includes sensitivity to pets, dust mites, trees, grasses, weeds, and mold as they are the most likely triggers for nasal allergies.
In addition to meeting with an allergist, Corbett and the experts at ACAAI share these tips for feeling your best during spring allergy season:
Start medications before symptoms begin
Allergy symptoms can begin much earlier than the official start of spring. To lessen the impact, start taking your allergy medications two to three weeks before your symptoms usually begin.
Avoid first-generation antihistamines
Antihistamines are grouped into first- or second-generation medications, and these affect your body differently. If you plan to take an oral medication to treat hay fever, think twice before using first-generation antihistamines such as diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine. They can cause drowsiness and symptoms like dry mouth, dry eyes and constipation. Consider non-sedating treatments such as cetirizine, levocetirizine, fexofenadine, loratadine or desloratadine instead.
Take avoidance measures
Be proactive to keep pollen at bay. Close your car and home windows during the spring allergy season as breezes carry microscopic pollen particles. Take off shoes when you enter your home and consider immediately putting clothes in the wash to get rid of pollen. Finally, shower and shampoo at night before bed so pollen is not being transferred from your hair to your bedding.
Be cautious of pollen counts
Keep an eye on the predicted pollen counts for your region, particularly if you plan to be outdoors for long stretches. Keep in mind, pollen counts reported on the news or online don’t necessarily mean you will or won’t be impacted. There are many types of pollen and an overall high pollen count doesn’t always indicate a strong concentration of the pollens that cause your symptoms.
Immunotherapy is designed to target your exact triggers through a shot or tablet and can greatly reduce the severity of your symptoms. Immunotherapy can also prevent the development of asthma in some children with seasonal allergies. Talk to your allergist about which form of immunotherapy is right for you or your kids.
Allergists are specially trained to help you take control of your allergies and asthma, so you can live your best life no matter the season. Find an allergist in your area at ACAAI.org.