Spring is the season of warm, breezy days, leisurely picnics…and chronic sniffles. Unfortunately, prolonged hours outside in the springtime may be accompanied by itchy, watery eyes, stuffiness and a scratchy throat.
But don’t resign yourself to the couch just yet. There are some preventative measures you can take to stay ahead of your symptoms.
“Spring allergies encompass two basic categories: seasonal and perennial allergen-induced symptoms,” says Steven Harris, M.D., an allergy and asthma specialist at Piedmont Physicians Georgia Lung. “Susceptible individuals will often develop stuffy nose, watery eyes and post-nasal drip, which may further aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma or COPD.”
Spring seasonal allergens include pollen from grass, ragweed, and trees. Perennial allergens, such as mold, are present year-round and can be more abundant in rainy weather.
Tips to avoid allergy symptoms during the spring:
- Take an antihistamine at the first sign of symptoms. An over-the-counter antihistamine can be used at the first sign of the sniffles, especially if you are prone to allergies. They are effective at relieving most people’s symptoms by blocking the effects of histamine and are safe for long-term use.
- Monitor the pollen count. Keep an eye on the pollen and mold counts, and plan outdoor activities accordingly. Pollens surge on dry, windy days and drop on rainy days.
- Change out air filters. Spring is a good time for seasonal maintenance like changing and cleaning out air conditioning and furnace air filters.
- Check indoor humidity levels. Mold spores increase during damp spring months, so it is important to check areas of your home for mold or mildew growth. Keep your indoor humidity level at 50 percent or less.
- Eliminate chemicals. Avoid scented candles, potpourri and air freshener sprays. Even cleaning products have added chemicals that can aggravate allergies. Consider using more natural cleaning product alternatives, such as vinegar and water or baking soda.
- Shower every night. When you shower at the end of the day, you remove allergens from your skin and hair, which means you won’t breathe them in while you’re sleeping.
- Consider allergy testing. See your doctor for allergy testing if over-the-counter medications don’t cut it, especially if your symptoms remain after 10 days.
- Ask about allergy shots. If you are looking for a permanent solution, allergy shots may be the answer. By injecting tiny amounts of an allergen over a period of time, allergy shots help your body build up a tolerance to that allergen.
“Which particular allergens are responsible for a patient’s symptoms may sometimes be difficult to determine,” says Dr. Harris. “Allergy testing is often necessary to both identify the underlying cause and offer proper treatment of allergic mediated disease. Although over-the-counter medications and other allergy remedies may offer some temporary relief, individuals who suffer recurrent or worsening symptoms are encouraged to seek the advice of their physician or allergy specialist to determine a proper treatment plan.”
Piedmont has more options for getting the care you need when you need it. From urgent care to 24/7 virtual visits from your smartphone or desktop, to same-day appointments and online scheduling. Visit piedmont.org/now to learn more about how you can get care on your time, in good time.