Spring is here! As warmer weather comes to Southeast, so does the four-to-six-week springtime bloom that begins in May. During this period, a large cloud of tree pollen explodes across Alaska as birch, alder and cottonwood trees begin to flower. This beautiful change in the seasons is bittersweet for people who suffer from seasonal allergies. Allergy symptoms can range from mildly annoying to health-threatening and often includes the following:
- Runny nose
- Itchy throat and eyes
- Mucus draining in the back of the throat
If you are one of the millions of people in the U.S. who suffer from the above symptoms when spring comes, here are five ways to keep seasonal allergies at bay.
1. Avoid opening your doors or windows
Pollen, a fine, powdery collection of microscopic grains that comes off flowers and trees when they reproduce, is one of the main culprits for seasonal allergies. Although we often want to let in the fresh springtime air, especially after being locked-up indoors all winter, doing so will allow this allergen to blow inside your home and cover your carpet and furniture. The pollen count is usually at its highest in the early morning and late evening, so avoid keeping your doors and windows open during those times. If you feel you do need to air out your home, be sure to do a follow-up dusting or vacuum to collect any allergens that might have made it inside.
2. Run a portable High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter in your home
Pollen is not the only allergy aggravator out there when the weather turns warm and windy. Seasonal allergies are also triggered by dust, mold, and pet hair. The HEPA filter is a relatively inexpensive air-purifying device that runs the air in your home through multiple filters to remove 99.97 percent of allergy triggers. Keeping your windows shut and running your HEPA filter during allergy season will keep your house a sanctuary from the onslaught of allergy triggers flying around outdoors. HEPA filters come in all shapes and sizes and can fit a variety of budgets. Here are some online shopping options in case you don’t have access to one in a local, home improvement store.
3. Stay indoors on dry windy days
As mentioned above, pollen counts are the highest in the morning and at night. On dry, windy days, the pollen gets swept up in the air and can cause even those with the strongest allergy resistance to show some symptoms at any point in the day. Staying indoors on those days is your best bet to not trigger any of your seasonal allergies. The best time to go outdoors is just after it rains because the damp weather keeps the pollen controlled on the ground. This is good news for us in rainy, Southeast Alaska. If you do need to go outdoors on a warm, windy day, be sure to wear sunglasses to keep the pollen away from your eyes.
4. Wash away the allergens before bed
A good practice during the allergy months is to take a shower and wash your hair before going to bed. Throughout the day your skin and hair become a moving net for allergens floating in the air. Washing away the pollen, and dust will prevent it from spreading to your sheets and pillows. This same practice should go for any clothes you wore outside as well. Washing your clothes as soon as possible is a good way to prevent allergens from collecting on your floor and carpet.
5. Ask your doctor for a referral to an allergist
The four steps above are great ways to avoid common triggers to seasonal allergies, but sometimes no amount of preparation will prevent seasonal allergies from invading your life. If you find that your allergies are too unbearable, there are plenty of medical options available for treatment. Treatment can range from over-the-counter medication, such as antihistamines, to allergy immunotherapy, which is a series of shots that target specific allergies. Don’t be afraid to ask your primary care provider for advice on your own personal struggle with seasonal allergies. Depending on how severe your symptoms are, your doctor may recommend you see an allergy specialist known as an allergist. An allergist will help you identify your specific allergy and recommend the best way to treat it.
Please follow the recommended steps above for seasonal allergy relief and don’t forget to enjoy the beauty of spring in Southeast!