With the peak of the spring allergy season fast approaching, millions of Americans are keeping their tissue boxes close by and trying to decide whether a walk in the park is really such a good idea.
The budding trees and blooming flowers associated with the early return of spring mark an increase in itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and other allergy symptoms. Warm, wet winters normally signal a bad allergy season in the spring so be prepared for a beautiful spring with plenty of airborne pollen to breathe.
The annual bout with tree and grass pollens can begin as early as late February and last through the beginning of the summer. While many consider allergies to be just a nuisance, in severe cases the symptoms can mimic a bad flu - that persists for months. Seasonal allergies often trigger asthma attacks due to the build up of irritating pollen and fluid in the lungs.
Many allergy sufferers wind up with secondary infections involving the sinuses, ears, throat, nose and lungs from untreated symptoms. The fluid that builds up in reaction to the pollen allergy provides a wonderful haven for bacteria to grow.
"Minimize outdoor activity when pollen counts are high. Peak pollen times are usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m."
Allergy sufferers don't have to cope with the symptoms every spring and fall. An allergist or immunologist can offer relief and a plan to control the cycle of symptoms. There are treatments that range from pills and nasal inhalants to shots that trick your immune system into accepting the pollen.
These treatments may not eliminate the discomfort of allergies, but they can make the symptoms less disruptive to the activities you enjoy outdoors in the spring.
can you do to avoid suffering from seasonal allergies? The only way to avoid pollen is to move to somewhere that has no grass, trees or weeds - or lock yourself in a sealed, air-conditioned room until the pollen is gone. Fortunately, there are less drastic steps you can take to make yourself more comfortable. The AAAAI offers the following tips to help allergy sufferers find some relief during your peak allergy season:
Do a thorough spring cleaning windows, book shelves and air conditioning vents collect dust and mold throughout the winter that can provoke allergy symptoms.
Take medications at least 30 minutes prior to outdoor activity. Consult with an allergist-immunologist to ensure medications are helping you, and notify your doctor when reactions to medications occur.
Shut windows in your house on days pollen counts are high. Avoid using windows or fans that may draw pollen inside.
Wash bedding weekly in hot water.
Dry laundry indoors. Sheets hanging on an outside
line are an easy target for blowing pollen.
Shower and wash your hair before bed - pollen can
collect on your hair and skin.
Keep pets off of furniture and out of the bedroom.
Pollen can cling to the dog or cat after being outside.
Keep car windows closed during peak season. Use air
conditioning and point vents away from face.
When mowing lawn or gardening, wear a filter mask.
to see an allergy/asthma specialist
The AAAAI's How the Allergist/Immunologist Can Help:
Consultation and Referral Guidelines Citing the Evidence
provides information to assist patients and health care professionals
in determining when a patient may need consultation or ongoing
specialty care by the allergist-immunologist.
should see an allergist-immunologist if they:
prolonged or severe symptoms of rhinitis.
co-existing conditions such as asthma or recurrent sinusitis.
symptoms interfering with quality of life and/or ability
found medications to be ineffective or have had adverse
reactions to medications.
a child with allergic rhinitis, because immunotherapy may
potentially prevent the development of asthma.