There’s nothing like letting in a cool spring breeze while you sleep: You can enjoy the smell of fresh air and the morning song of chirping birds. But if you’re one of the 50 million in the U.S. who suffer from seasonal allergies1—or their housemates—open windows mean you probably wake up to a sloppy symphony of sneezing and sniffing!
These unpleasant sounds of congestion may also come with a runny nose, itchy eyes, cough and fatigue, explains Kyon Hood, MD, FAAP, president, Teladoc Physicians, P.A. Asthma sufferers who are affected by allergies may also have breathing troubles in the spring.
As the levels of pollen from trees and grasses rise in springtime, the immune systems of both kids and adults can go on attack. Allergic rhinitis—or hay fever—is the unwelcome guest! So how can you enjoy the pleasant songs of spring and find relief from this persistent pest? Read on to gain control over your symptoms and feel your best.
Keep contact low
Outdoor allergens like the pollens of springtime can be hard to avoid: they’re in the air all around us. Do your best to keep outdoor air outside the home and car by closing doors and windows at night or anytime pollen counts are high, Dr. Hood says. Instead opt for air conditioning. The same idea applies to your laundry: Put clothing, sheets and towels in the dryer instead of hanging them on a clothesline outside where pollen can stick.
“Keep an eye on pollen forecasts and current pollen levels on local TV, the internet or smartphone weather apps,” Dr. Hood suggests. “If pollen counts are high, avoid outdoor chores like mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, raking leaves, gardening and planting,” he adds.
If you have to be outside for yardwork, Dr. Hood suggests wearing a pollen mask. Remove your clothes when you come inside, he says, showering to rinse off the pollen from your hair and skin. Try to avoid outdoor chores on dry, windy days, which tend to be worse for allergy sufferers. Early mornings also usually bring high pollen counts, he says. If you suffer from chronic allergies, you can read more about how to manage symptoms here.
“After a long rain is actually the best time to go outside,” explains Dr. Hood, who notes spring allergen counts go down after rainwater washes pollen from the air.
Strategies for success
Aside from being cautious about outdoor air, there are certain additions you can make to your home and life to find some allergy relief. Adding HEPA filters that you clean or change regularly will trap pollen particles before your heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit circulates the air. You should also clean floors with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter, Dr. Hood says.
Allergy medicine is often useful for reducing daily symptoms. Oral antihistamines like Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec (or their generic versions) should be taken as directed. Decongestants and nasal steroid sprays can also bring relief.
“Especially when high pollen counts are forecasted, consider taking allergy medications before symptoms begin,” Dr. Hood says.
There are many options for allergy sufferers and, depending on how bad your symptoms are, you may need a combination of medicines. A trusted physician can help guide you through the process. If you aren’t managing your allergies well, you can start to develop sinus or ear infections, worsening asthma symptoms (which can be dangerous), or difficulty sleeping, which will seriously impact your productivity and enjoyment of life.
Unfortunately, springtime allergies can really do a number on you, hurting your motivation and spirit. If you’re feeling distracted at work or school and dealing with mucus-filled misery that zaps your energy, it’s time to get help. Our U.S. board-certified physicians will listen to your allergy symptoms and discuss their triggers. Together you’ll be able to create a plan for springtime success.
Reach out to our doctors online 24/7 from the comfort of home. By taking a few small steps and following a treatment plan, you can enjoy the beauty of the blossoms before it’s too late.