Suffering from seasonal allergies? You’re not alone. In fact, 36 million Americans are affected by them, and they always seem to hit at the worst time of year! Just when the weather is at its most inviting, the sneezing, itchy eyes and congestion arrive.
Seasonal allergies, or hay fever and allergic rhinitis, are on the rise. They’re caused by your body’s chemical reaction to pollen, and plants pollinate most when seasons change. But we have good news: you can still enjoy the great outdoors without feeling miserable every year.
Here are some steps you can take to get some relief:
Know your triggers and avoid them. The two most common triggers for allergies are ragweed and mold. Ragweed grows in fields, along roadsides and in vacant lots. A single ragweed plant can produce one billion pollen grains per season, and the grains can travel up to 400 miles. Molds are often found in heavy vegetation, hay, straw and raked leaves. Mold also increases after rain. What’s more, certain foods can trigger allergies, such as bananas, cucumbers, melons, zucchini, sunflower seeds and chamomile tea.
Recognize weather patterns that lead to allergies and prepare for them. While allergy season isn’t directly linked to weather, areas affected by lots of rain can expect more pollen and mold.
Protect yourself. Simple things like wearing a mask when gardening or doing yard work can improve allergy symptoms. You can also:
- Utilize a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter to better trap pollen spores.
- Wear sunglasses outside to reduce the amount of pollen that gets into your eyes.
- Wash your hair daily to remove pollen.
- Exercise in the morning or evening, when pollen counts are lower.
- Keep your dog clean and free from pollen.
Pay attention to the news. Local TV, radio stations, newspapers and the internet provide pollen forecasts and updates on pollen levels. If a pollen swell is predicted, close your doors and windows and plan indoor activities until it goes back down.
If you're still struggling with spring allergies, talk to a primary care provider at Goshen Health.