Spring: The Season of Allergies
After months of being indoors and trying the occasional outdoor dining in the cold, we are looking forward to spring – the warm weather, plants in bloom, and time outdoors. But with spring comes seasonal allergies, especially hay fever, which affects roughly 20 million adults and 6 million children in the US.
Hay fever, or seasonal allergic rhinitis, is mostly caused by an allergy to a type of pollen. When plants bloom in the spring, they release tiny pollen grains that fertilize other plants of the same species. Pollen from trees, weeds and grass are light enough to travel by wind and cause the most problems. For many, this means the occasional sneeze, stuffy or runny nose, or irritated eyes. However, for those with allergy-induced asthma, you might have worsening asthma symptoms when pollen counts are high.
Tips to Get Relief
This will be our first spring with face mask guidelines in place across the state, and given the airborne nature of pollen, it could result in some people experiencing fewer allergy symptoms in return. Some masks are even built to protect you from pollen.
Below are a few tips to help you get relief before and during your seasonal allergies:
- Taking allergy medicine, like antihistamine tablets (such as Claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec) can provide relief as soon as 1-2 hours after being taken, but they are more effective when taken regularly, before symptoms occur. If you know you usually start to experience itchy, dry eyes in early spring or you will be vacationing to a place where the pollen count is high, start to take your tablets a week or two in advance.
- The use of an air purifier in your home in conjunction with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is best known to trap airborne allergens.
- Wearing sunglasses outdoors can also help protect your eyes from pollen floating in the air
- For stuffy or runny noses, use nasal corticosteroid sprays as needed (such as Flonase or Rhinocort). For people with persistent allergies, nasal sprays can also be administered regularly.
- For dry or itchy eyes, apply eye drops as needed (such as Zaditor or Pataday). If you have been itching a lot, a cooling eye mask can also offer a nice relief.
If your allergies have been acting up, you can also check the local pollen counts at the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology or pollen.com and try to avoid outdoor activities on days when counts are high. Pollen is usually higher on warm, breezy days and at it highest from 5 to 10 a.m. and at dusk.
Lastly, see below for tips to try control pollen coming into your home:
- Keep windows closed
- Use an air purifier or if possible, central air conditioning with a certified asthma & allergy friendly HVAC filter or air purifier
- Remove your shoes before entering your home
- Take a shower and shampoo your hair before bed
- Change and wash your clothes after being outdoors
- Clean pollen off pets with a towel before they come inside
- Wash bedding in hot, soapy water once a week
- Use a nasal rinse to flush out inhaled pollen out of your nose
If you start to notice new or worsening allergy symptoms, contact us so we can discuss treatment options, medications, or lifestyle changes to help reduce your symptoms or keep them under control. Contact a Personal Health Navigator by chat through the member portal or by calling 646.819.5100.
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