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Ah, spring, the time for blooming flowers, budding trees—and seasonal allergies like hay fever, triggered by things like tree pollen, grasses, and dust mites.
For all the joys spring may bring, it can be nightmarish for people susceptible to allergies, which can cause runny noses, itchy eyes, sneezing and scratchy throats.
If you suffer from allergies, at least you’re not alone. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, roughly 81 million people in the U.S, suffer from seasonal hay fever—that’s about 26% of the population.
And 2023 is shaping up to be a rather ornery allergy season, with everything from longer growing seasons driven by climate change to excessive rainfall on the west coast contributing to elevated pollen counts.
If you are a part of the scratchy nose cohort, the good news is there are several ways to manage and treat your symptoms effectively. Here are some tips for managing spring allergies season.
Allergens are at their highest levels on drier days, and spread the most when the wind kicks up. But you don’t have to be a hermit during spring. Go outside during early mornings or later in the evening, when the pollen count is lower—especially if you’re exercising. Take a morning jog instead.
Another good time to get out and about is after it rains, which not only clears pollen out of the air, but also creates the clear conditions that make those Instagram photos so crisp and clear, without filters.
And as fun it may be to cruise with the car windows down on a sunny day, keep in mind you’re letting allergens flow into your ride. If you’re susceptible to allergy attacks, roll them up.
When you’re at home, you’ll still want to take steps to knock the allergens out of the air. Pollen and dust mites can travel inside with you, or blow in through open doors or windows. Keep those closed in the home during dry days, and run the air conditioner to filter out pollen.
Once you’re inside, change out of your outdoor clothes, and shower and shampoo to be extra diligent. Wash those clothes, and your bedding once a week in hot water to kill dust mites. Just don’t hang your laundry outside to dry—pollen can stick to sheets, towels, and clothing.
Regularly cleaning your home can help reduce the amount of allergens in your air, among many other benefits.
To clean your floors and carpets, use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which can clear out up to 99.97% of airborne particles, per the Environmental Protection Agency. A dehumidifier can help purify your indoor air too.
If your allergies persist, consider over-the-counter medication. There are several types, such as antihistamines (like Allegra or Claritin) and decongestants (such as Sudafed). Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of, that’s right, histamine, a chemical that is released by the body to battle allergens.
Sometimes they do their job too well, though, creating the itchy sneezing fits associated with an allergy attack. Antihistamines can calm these down.
A decongestant won’t necessarily fight allergies themselves, but they can help to reduce swelling in the nasal passages that may flare up during allergy season, making it easier to breathe.
Not into medicines? Some people find relief from allergy symptoms by using natural remedies instead. You’ll have plenty of choices, ranging from honey and Vitamin C to supplements such as spirulina and essential oils, including peppermint and eucalyptus.
Another option is a saline nasal spray, which can help clear mucus from your nasal passages. Or consider trying a neti pot, a small container used to flush out the nasal passages with saline solution. This can help to clear out allergens and mucus, reducing allergy symptoms.
To use a neti pot, mix a quarter teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of warm water. Pour the solution into one nostril, and allow it to flow out of the other nostril.
If you’d rather sip warm water than pour it through your nose, herbal teas like chamomile and peppermint can also help soothe your symptoms. Plus they’re tasty and comforting, which is nice.
Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet, including nutrient-rich veggies such as carrots, yams, cabbage, and beets. Swiss chard is high in Quercetin, a natural compound that fights hay fever.
Foods high in vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids.
Avoid foods that are known to trigger allergies, such as peanuts, sugar, wheat and, gasp, chocolate.
Stay hydrated, too. Drinking plenty of water can help to thin out mucus and reduce congestion, making it easier to breathe. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
If your allergies are bugging you, ease up on drinks that cause dehydration, such as alcohol and caffeine.
Managing and treating allergies during the spring season requires a combination of lifestyle changes, medication, and natural remedies. By following these tips, you can reduce your exposure to allergens and manage your symptoms effectively, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of spring without the discomfort of allergies.
If your symptoms are severe or persistent, consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action.
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