The telltale signs of spring: daylight lasting longer, tulips popping up, oak trees sporting bright green leaves. But for some Americans — especially if you live in California, Florida, New York, Ohio, or Texas — watery eyes and noses are equally strong indicators of the season change and seasonal allergy time. Since airborne allergies can strike any place and at different times of the year, Teladoc is here to help you stay healthy regardless of what’s floating in the air and where.
Luckily, seasonal allergies can be easy to understand and treat. In general, airborne allergies are reactions to substances — mold spores, dust mites, pollen from grass, trees, or weeds — that are usually harmless to most people. If you’re allergic to an allergen, your immune system tries to protect you by producing antibodies and a chemical called histamine, which causes inflammation and symptoms such as:
- itchy or watery eyes
- blotchy or itchy skin
- runny or stopped-up nose
- cough, sometimes with postnasal drip
The best way to deal with airborne allergies is to avoid the culprit allergens when possible, and treat allergy symptoms as early as possible. Here are 7 tips to help you do this:
- Learn what ails you. Knowing which allergens bother you is an important first step to avoiding them. You can visit an allergy specialist, who can perform skin or blood tests to determine which substances cause a reaction. You can also talk with friends and co-workers who have allergies. If you’re suffering when they are, chances are you may be allergic to the same elements.
- Monitor the pollen count. The next step is to stay abreast of the amount of pollen that’s in the air where you live or plan to travel. Most television weather forecasts feature a pollen watch. You can keep track through pollen.com. If you pay attention to the types of pollen and levels over time, you can get a more accurate idea of what bothers you and when to avoid getting exposed to it.
- Close the windows. When allergens are flying around, you don’t have to stay grounded; just keep the windows closed. This includes your car as well as at home, school, or work. If you can’t do this, for example when you’re on a city bus or doing yardwork, try covering your nose and mouth with a scarf or bandana to reduce the amount of allergens you inhale. Inexpensive, disposable face masks are readily available at drug stores and home improvement stores (check the lawn care or painting section).
- Shower, shampoo, spray. As soon as you get home from a morning walk or afternoon softball game, try to change clothes and take a shower. You may also want to shampoo your hair more often during peak allergy season. When you finish working outside, take the extra step of spraying off work gloves and footwear before coming indoors. Doormats can also help keep your family from tracking pesky pollen into the house.
- Watch what you eat. Some allergies can get worse when you eat foods with similar proteins. For example, if you’re allergic to grass, you may want to avoid eating raw oranges, tomatoes, and melons such as watermelon and cantaloupe. Cooking fruits and vegetables when your allergies flare up, instead of eating them raw, can help too.
- Change your filters. Add this chore to your spring cleaning task list. In addition to HVAC system and vacuum cleaner filters, the cabin air filter in your car should be changed periodically. It’s usually located behind your glove box and can be replaced quickly; ask for it the next time you get an oil change.
- Stay in touch with Teladoc. When sneezes and sniffles don’t go away or your symptoms worsen, reach out to our U.S.-certified doctors for help. They can diagnose your condition, recommend treatments, and even prescribe medications when necessary. You can contact Teladoc 24/7 online, by phone, or through our mobile app.