It's spring, the weather is getting warmer and flowers are starting to bloom. For many, it’s the most blissful time of year. But not so much for those 81 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis.
When spring weather hits, all you can think about is how to stop sneezing! The beginning of allergy season is often accompanied by red eyes and a stuffy nose that can leave you feeling awful. Tissue, anyone?
While most people experience allergies in the spring, some allergies can pop up during any season, depending on your allergies.
Luckily, there are a few tips that can help manage seasonal allergy symptoms.
Seasonal allergy tips
Although there is no cure for seasonal allergies, the most common symptoms can be managed in a variety of ways.
1. Over-the-counter remedies
Over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription allergy medications can provide some relief from seasonal allergy symptoms like sneezing, runny nose or congestion. There are several different types of allergy medications including antihistamines, decongestants and corticosteroids. Each type of medication is also often available as either pills, nasal sprays or eye drops.
The type of medication that’s best for you will depend on your specific symptoms. Though your local drugstore may offer a variety of these products, before beginning any new medication, you should speak with your healthcare provider to help choose the best medication for you.
2. Rinse your sinuses
Neti pots and other nasal irrigation solutions, such as bulb syringes, pulsating nasal irrigation devices and squeeze bottles, can be effective for clearing the sinuses of allergens and mucus.
For best results, use a saline rinse or saltwater instead of plain water for irrigation. To avoid any potential infection, only rinse your sinuses with distilled, sterile or water that has been boiled and stored within the last 24 hours.
Limit outdoor time during high pollen count days
Chances are, if the weather outside is rainy, cloudy or windless, your allergies won’t act up as much. Only those with extreme sensitivity to pollen or mold have symptoms when the pollen count is low. However, if the day’s warm, dry and windy, there’s a good possibility you’ll be symptomatic.
Regularly check the pollen count in your area on these warm days and try to limit your time outside if the count is high. It’s also important to note that pollen counts tend to be highest in the morning, with peak times in the middle of the day. This means it’s best to venture outside in the late afternoon or early evening.
3. Avoid having allergens enter your home
Keeping your home free from allergens like pollen is important for managing allergy symptoms.
If you’re planning on exercising outdoors, make sure to shower as soon as you get home so your hair and skin are clean and you’re not sleeping in pollen.
Refrain from keeping your doors and windows open during allergy season. Instead, use an air conditioner with a HEPA filter to help you regulate your home’s temperatures. Use a filter in the car as well, where outdoor allergens may get into your air vents while driving around.
When you get home, always take your shoes off at the door so you’re not tracking pollen or mold across your floors. If you have dogs or cats, make sure you wipe their paws and fur after they spend time outside.
Choose easy-to-clean furnishings, flooring, curtains and blinds if you are an indoor allergy sufferer. It’s not hard for dust, mold spores, pollen particles and pet dander to collect—especially in crevices and hard-to-reach places.
Year-round seasonal allergies
Though seasonal allergies are most often associated with the spring and summer months, seasonal allergies can be year-round depending on where you live. Knowing the main allergens of each type of season can help you know what to avoid in order to help stop your allergy symptoms.
During springtime, tree pollen is the most frequent culprit of spring allergies. Springtime is also coincidentally “pollen season” when pollination is at its peak.
Along with warmer weather, summer tends to bring grass pollen allergies. Allergies to northern and southern types of grass, such as timothy grass, ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass, are common during this time.
Fall ragweed allergies begin to appear in August and can last until as late as November, depending on the region in which you live. Early risers should take caution because ragweed pollen levels are highest in the mornings.
Pollen counts from trees, grasses and weeds typically decrease due to colder weather causing plants to die or become dormant. Most winter allergies are indoor from allergens like dust, mites, mold spores and pet dander. Prioritize keeping your house clean to avoid the buildup of these allergens.
Need more help? Visit an urgent care center near you
Treatment for seasonal allergies is a multi-pronged approach. An allergist or other specialist may recommend that you use a combination of medications, behaviors and treatments to give you relief from symptoms.
Need more advice on how to deal with allergy season? Click here to find a local provider from one of our health system partners at a center near you. You can walk in without an appointment, or you can check in online. Experience the quality on-demand care that you deserve. It’s easy and convenient to visit one of our knowledgeable providers today.
Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant