Top 7 Ways to Defend Against Seasonal Allergies
Allergy season is in full bloom… and in many climates, it continues all year long.
For seasonal allergy sufferers, the joy of blossoms, freshly cut grass, and warmer weather also means stuffy noses, itchy eyes, and scratchy throats.
Here are seven ways to take the sting out of this allergy season — arm yourself with knowledge and action!
Stay indoors on high-allergen days
Seasonal allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to everyday elements found in your environment. Tree pollen, weeds, grasses, and outdoor molds tend to be the biggest triggers.
Fortunately, websites like the National Allergy Bureau publish up-to-date pollen counts to help you stay informed. Whenever possible, stay indoors on high-allergen days to avoid a flare-up.
Know the Difference: Allergies vs. COVID
Seasonal allergies can sometimes bring symptoms that appear similar to those of COVID-19, including fatigue, coughing, shortness of breath, headaches and congestion.
However, more common allergy symptoms include sneezing and itchy, watery eyes; those two things don’t usually happen with COVID-19. Some other common COVID-19 symptoms include fever and chills, muscle aches, and loss of taste or smell, which do not typically occur with allergies. As you can see in this Venn diagram from the CDC, many common COVID-19 symptoms do not overlap with seasonal allergies.
As the Mayo Clinic points out, seasonal allergies can be treated with over-the-counter medications and prescriptions. If you think you have COVID-19, you should consult a healthcare provider to determine whether you need to be tested.
Buy a portable HEPA filter or dehumidifier
High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are specially designed to remove tiny particles that trigger allergies. Try investing in a portable HEPA filter and a vacuum cleaner containing a HEPA filter.
Because mold spores thrive in hot, humid environments, it may be helpful to purchase a dehumidifier as well. Running a dehumidifier draws excess moisture out of the air, keeping your allergies to a minimum.
Stay clean to limit exposure
Whenever you come inside from the outdoors, you track microorganisms, dust, and allergens with you. During allergy season, take special precautions to stay clean and limit your exposure.
Take off your shoes at the door to avoid tracking in allergens, and change your clothes once you are inside. You can ask your family members to do the same, and also request that the non-allergy sufferers help with the housework, as vacuuming and sweeping stir up allergens.
Taking frequent showers is another good way to help rid your body of any pollen or dust and limit your exposure.
Keep doors and windows closed
There’s nothing more tempting than a fresh spring breeze if a house has been closed up during the winter… but resist the temptation when possible, particularly during the spring months.
Opening doors and windows unnecessarily lets pollen and mold spores into your home, triggering allergies. Closing windows at night may be particularly helpful, as many species release pollen at that time.
Rinse your sinuses
One of the most effective natural remedies for seasonal allergies is rinsing your sinuses. A NIH/NLM study has shown that using a saline solution is a quick, effective (and inexpensive) way to alleviate congestion.
You can also visit a local pharmacy for a squeeze bottle or neti pot. Always use sterile water when rinsing your nasal sinuses.
Over-the-Counter Allergy Medications
When natural, preventative measures simply aren’t enough, it might be time to turn to medication for some relief. Over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Zyrtec or Claritin, are a great way to reduce itching, sneezing, and stuffiness.
Nasal sprays like Flonase are also effective if used before symptoms begin. It may take some trial and error to discover the best allergy medication for you. If the over-the-counter medications don’t seem to help, talk to your medical provider about prescription medications for seasonal allergies.