Spring is in the air! You and your two best pals plan to grab a bite to eat on the patio of your favorite local café. You’ve finally traded your winter coat for a cardigan, and you can smell the flowers in bloom. Except for one problem: averages show that one of you will suffer from airborne allergens that bring on itchy eyes, sneezing, and runny nose. Brunch just got a whole lot less fun!
For the 30 percent of people who experience allergic rhinitis*, or inflammation of the nose, spring calls for both T-shirts and tissues.
Seasonal allergies are often brought on by pollen, which thrive during April and May’s cool nights and warm days.
Our bodies view pollen as a foreign, dangerous “invader”: the immune system creates a reaction to attack it, causing watery eyes, coughing, stuffy nose, scratchy or mucus-filled throat, even headache.
A study** looked at areas of the U.S. where ragweed, a common pollen, and unhealthy smog combine to make allergies worse than ever for residents. The National Resources Defense Council ranked the following cities the “Sneeziest and Wheeziest”:
- Oklahoma City
- New Haven
In areas primed for allergy suffering, they called these regions most dangerous:
- the Los Angeles Basin
- the region around St. Louis
- the Great Lakes area
- the Mid- Atlantic States
- New England
No matter where you live on the map, allergy suffering is common. It shouldn’t be downplayed or overlooked—allergies can really wreak havoc on our bodies and affect the way we enjoy life. “A combination of prevention and treatment is the ideal way to manage seasonal allergies,” says Dr. Jason Tibbels, Vice President of Teladoc Health Services.
For anyone who wakes up to a foggy head and a tissue-filled bed, check daily pollen counts so you can create a plan of attack. Spring and summer bring high tree and grass pollens, especially in the evening. Later summer and fall bring ragweed, which peaks in the morning. Limit time outdoors, closing windows and cranking up the AC instead. This goes for your car rides, too.
If you have to go outside, experts say to wear sunglasses and a hat to protect your eyes and face. Try not to rub your eyes and nose, which can lead to more irritation. Change your clothes right when you come inside, washing and drying them indoors instead of on a clothesline.
Clean bedding frequently, and why quit there? Wash hands often, wipe down surfaces, and vacuum floors and carpets using a HEPA-filtered sweeper. Pollen and other allergens like dust, pet dander, and molds are found on both hard and soft materials in your home.
Prevention lets us take an active role in feeling better, but with seasonal allergies you can’t remove the causes entirely. Dr. Tibbels recommends starting allergy medication before symptoms become too bad. “It’s important to get evaluated by a doctor so you know what medication may be a fit for your condition. By getting help early, you can prevent allergy attacks altogether.”
There are many types of allergy medications, both over the counter and prescription, that work in various ways to treat allergic diseases. Antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, and antileukotrienes (which block the actions of chemicals the body releases after allergen contact) can ease symptoms and even halt reactions in the first place. These different meds come in pills, liquids and nasal sprays.
Try connecting with Teladoc about your allergy concerns and the options for feeling better. Our licensed doctors treat allergies in people of all ages. We’re here to help you enjoy spring. It’s time for a new beginning!
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