Spring Is on Its Way, and So Are Seasonal Allergies
Seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) is one of the most common kinds of allergies. About 35 million people in the U.S. suffer from it and spring marks the beginning of symptoms for many of them.
Symptoms include sneezing, stuffiness, a runny nose and itchiness in your nose, the roof of your mouth, throat, eyes or ears. Bad cases of hay fever can also lead to sinus infections, cause trouble sleeping and affect your ability to learn at school or be productive at work. Sometimes it can turn into chronic respiratory problems such as asthma.
These symptoms are triggered by an immune system overreaction to pollen and mold. Pollen is made by trees, grasses and weeds. The main culprits in the early spring are trees like birch, cedar, cottonwood and pine. Mold spores, which float in the air like pollen, start to increase as temperatures start to rise in the spring. In many areas of the country, mold spores can be a year-round allergy trigger, both outdoors and indoors.
There is no cure, but there are simple steps you can take to limit your exposure to the things that may cause symptoms.
- Keep track of pollen and mold levels in the air and try to stay indoors when levels are high. Wear a pollen mask if you can't avoid being exposed for long periods of time.
- Keep your windows closed in your house and car and, if possible, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools and dries the air.
- Don't mow lawns or rake leaves because it stirs up pollen and molds. If you need to do either of these chores, wear a mask.
- Try not to hang sheets or clothes outside to dry. Pollen can stick to the fabric.
- Take a shower after coming indoors. Otherwise, any pollen in your hair may bother you later on.
You should also take steps to limit your exposure to possible indoor triggers like pet dander, dust mites and mold. Your doctor can help you figure out what causes your allergies.
You can also try using over-the-counter remedies to control your symptoms. These include antihistamines, decongestants and saline nose sprays. Talk to your doctor to find out what medication or other treatments are best for you.