Just because the pollen’s out in full force, doesn't mean you have to suffer
Over the past 15 years, more and more Americans are suffering from allergies that make us feel congested and uncomfortable for much of the spring season. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 10–16 percent of American adults now have allergies—which probably means someone in your peer group, if not someone in your household, is an allergy sufferer.
Here we suggest some measures that can help to provide some relief:
Check the pollen at the door
You can minimize your reaction to allergens if you try to keep them out of the house. Leave your shoes near the door, so you don’t track them in. (This goes for pets, too—keep some wipes near the door and give their paws a once-over before they come in.) Change out of your work clothes right away, and put dirty clothes in the hamper. At the end of the day, take a shower to rinse off any pollen or other residue that might have built up on your skin and hair.
Make sure it’s not a virus
Cold symptoms can look similar to allergic reactions, but it’s good to know what you’re dealing with. If you’re feverish or achy, you can generally rule out allergies. Do your symptoms go on for more than two weeks? Then it’s probably allergies. If you notice that your symptoms are worse after you’ve spent time outside, that’s also a pretty good indicator you’re dealing with allergies—even if you haven’t had them in the past.
Get some over-the-counter help
Your doctor may have already prescribed you something to address your symptoms. You might also want to consult an allergist, if your symptoms are severe enough, or consider getting a series of shots that can provide long-term relief. But most of us can get some immediate help at the drugstore. For an itchy nose and lots of sniffling, try an antihistamine. If you’re congested, then a decongestant might alleviate your symptoms.
Control the air-flow
If you know you’re allergic to pollen, then it’s better to keep the windows closed and use a ceiling fan for some circulation. If dust and mold are the culprits, then keep the windows open for fresh air as much as you can. (Many believe that fresh air is healthier overall—especially given all the toxic chemicals we use in our homes on a regular basis.)
Mask yourself in the garden
Don’t be afraid to wear a mask to protect yourself—a surgical mask, that is. If you’re doing yard work or gardening, you’re going to expose yourself to a high intensity of allergens. A surgical mask can cut down on 95 percent of the particles that irritate. (Look for masks marked “N95,” which meet the standards of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health). You might feel funny at first, and your neighbors might tease you, but you’ll suffer a lot less for the rest of the day.
Try a holistic solution
A neti-pot is a ceramic container you can use to rinse your nasal passages with salt water. This can help alleviate a sore throat or itchiness, and there are none of the side effects that over-the-counter drugs have. Some people swear by this technique (which is no big deal once you get used to the sensation) and also believe it keeps them from getting sinus infections—an added bonus!
Be strategic about your timing
Some times of day are worse for pollen than others. The afternoons are when you’re likely to suffer the most, so if that’s usually when you go for your daily walk or run, try moving it up to the morning, or into the evening instead. Or even better—when pollen counts are at their highest, stay indoors or go to the gym for exercise.
No one deserves to suffer in the spring because of a few allergies. If you take some precautions, the season can be a lot less irritating, and you can enjoy it for a change!
This article is part of the weekly blog of the American College for Medical Careers. We care about the health and well being of all of our students. We offer six professional training programs at our campus in Orlando, FL. Reach out to us for more information or to take a tour!