A beautiful time of year is upon us; flowers are in bloom, trees are budding and the grass is growing green as we launch into spring. However, the rising temperatures and flowering plants also usher in seasonal allergies, which affect nearly 40 million Americans each year. Following a few simple allergy season tips can help make this year’s peak time more bearable.
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Dry cough
- Skin itching
Seasonal allergy symptoms may feel like a virus or “cold” initially, but the symptoms are usually less severe and not accompanied with fevers, upset stomach or body aches, which are common with viral syndromes. eMedical Urgent Care can help you differentiate the cause of your symptoms if you are unsure or have never experienced allergy symptoms before.
In addition to seasonal allergy symptoms, many patients also suffer from asthma , as these two syndromes commonly occur together. Allergies can often make asthmatic symptoms worse and cause more frequent “asthma attacks” when pollen counts rise. Managing both the allergy symptoms and asthma symptoms is a critical part of feeling well and staying healthy through allergy season.
Here are a few allergy season tips you can take to make this year a breeze for you and your family.
Ask About Regular Use of Over-the-Counter Antihistamines
- If your medical provider has recommended an over-the-counter non-drowsy antihistamine for daily use, be sure to take it on a schedule. Taking the medication daily as prescribed, even when you are feeling well, can help prevent flares of symptoms as allergy season waxes and wanes. Often, by the time you are experiencing severe symptoms, these medications will be less effective at helping you feel better, but can help ward off symptoms with daily use.
Have an Asthma Action Plan
- Having an action plan in place to treat asthma is important. Discussing a daily regimen with your healthcare provider can help simplify asthma treatment by scheduling daily medication dosing and breaking down what to do if symptoms worsen. Sticking with this plan each day can help minimize asthma attacks during allergy season. If your child is asthmatic it is critical for all of the people involved in caring for your child, such as extended family, school nurse or babysitter, to be familiar with the action plan in the event your child starts having worsening asthma symptoms.
Consider a Nasal Spray
- Allergic Rhinitis is the commonly used medical term for the nasal congestion and post-nasal drip which comes along with allergy season. This common complaint can be eased with regular use of nasal saline spray in each nostril to flush pollen and residue from the nasal passages. Nasal saline is safe enough for use by children and adults each day. In the event of severe symptoms, you may even need a prescription nasal steroid spray, which can be prescribed by eMedical Urgent Care.
- Alternatively, many allergy suffers also find relief with nasal washings with a neti pot, which can be found at pharmacies and health food stores. Rinsing the nasal passages with sterile water helps remove pollen and mucous via the same mechanism as the nasal saline spray.
Help your Itchy Eyes
- Suffering from “puffy eyes” is a very common seasonal allergy symptom. Rinsing the outer eye area each morning with cool water and following with a cool compress can relieve itchy, irritated eyes and eyelids.
- Showering and washing hair after a long day outside can decrease the amount of irritants and pollen that reaches your eyes. This also helps minimize the pollen you carry onto your pillowcase and can exacerbate eye symptoms as you sleep.
- For severe symptoms, eye drops are available both over the counter and via prescription when symptoms interfere with daily activities. However, simple eye hygiene and saline drops often are well tolerated and are effective without prescription.
Be Conscious of Exercise & Outdoor Time
- Keeping track of the daily projected pollen count is key. Exercising indoors when pollen counts are highest is a good idea to minimize both allergy and asthmatic symptoms.
- Dry, windy days are more likely to cause an increase in symptoms. You may want to consider avoiding extended time outside on these days, as symptoms can worsen due to pollen circulating in the dry air.
- Consider washing your pets or perhaps wiping their paws well after going for a walk or hike outside. This will minimize the pollen being tracked into the home.
Outside Coming In
- Keeping windows closed during high pollen days and also at nighttime during sleep can help minimize symptoms by limiting your exposure to allergens.
- Frequent dusting and vacuuming also may be necessary to keep dust and pollen out of the home in particularly sensitive individuals.
- Make sure your heating and cooling units have fresh HEPA filters placed for the spring time to filter the allergens coming into the home.
Avoid Food Triggers
- In addition to over-the-counter antihistamines, avoiding foods that are rich in histamine-triggering compounds can help symptoms. Avoiding things like wine (both red and white), dried fruits, fermented vegetables, vinegars, deli meats and most dairy, especially aged cheeses, can help you avoid an added histamine release in the body.
Following these allergy season tips can help make the season a breeze so you and your family can enjoy the warm weather and sunshine without worry.
By Megan McGrane, PA
About Megan McGrane
Megan McGrane is a full-time emergency department physician assistant at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J. She received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of Pittsburgh and holds a second master’s degree from University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Piscataway, N.J. She also is a certified health coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants.