The sun is shining, flowers are blooming and you can’t stop sneezing — it must be spring.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, they probably tend to affect you the most during the spring, when trees, grasses and weeds all release pollen into the air. While there’s no cure for seasonal allergies, knowing the causes can help you manage your symptoms.
What causes seasonal allergies?
If you experience seasonal allergies, your body mistakenly identifies pollen as dangerous to your health, causing an allergic reaction. Your body releases antibodies and chemicals called histamines into your blood, triggering your runny nose, itchy eyes, sore throat and other unpleasant side effects.
Windy days can make things worse by blowing the pollen around, while rainy days wash away the allergens, providing temporary relief.
How to find relief from seasonal allergies
Spring allergies may be unavoidable, but there are some things you can do to keep your symptoms under control.
1. Not smoking
Smoking can make allergy symptoms worse. If you or someone you live with smokes, seek out resources to help make quitting easier.
2. Check pollen levels
Keep an eye on your local pollen and mold count, and if possible, stay inside when it’s high. You can usually find this information on the local news or on weather websites. Also, try to stay indoors in the morning, when pollen levels tend to be highest.
3. Keep windows and doors closed
Warm, sunny spring weather may make you want to throw open every door and window in the house, but when you do that, you’re inviting pollen in. Keep all windows and doors shut as much as you can, and use an air purifier to help keep the air in your house clean.
4. Shower often
If you’ve been outside, take a shower when you come back in. Pollen can collect in your hair and on your clothes over time.
5. Keep the house clean
Keep the air in your house free of pollen by regularly cleaning your air filters, vacuuming carpets and cleaning bookshelves, vents and other places where pollen can collect.
6. Take allergy medicine regularly
Over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications — like antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and eye drops — can provide short-term relief from allergies. If you can, start taking your allergy medicine about a week before allergy season begins so it’s already in your system when allergies strike. Check with your healthcare provider before taking any allergy medicine for more than a few days.
7. Try natural home remedies
Use a nasal irrigation system or a neti pot to open up your sinus passages. Herbs like butterbur, quercetin and stinging nettle can provide limited relief, but they can also cause side effects, so be sure to check with your healthcare provider before using them.
If you've tried these tips and are still struggling with spring allergies, talk to a primary care provider with Goshen Health.