LifeTimes Online  
Blue Cross Blue Shield
May-June 2012, Vol. XXVII, No. 3
Front Page
FDA updates advice on statins
'LifeTimes' gets greener
Avoiding food-borne illness
Summer allergies
More drugs go generic
'Pre-disease' diagnosis?
Test your veggie knowledge
No age limit on STDs
Low blood pressure
Feeling feverish?
Aquatic therapy
FDA warns of health scams
New pneumonia vaccine
Sinus woes and antibiotics
Museum honors Native Americans
BCBSIL employees keep giving
Bookshelf: Cereal memories by the bowlful
Summer Vegetable Spaghetti recipe
Offbeat lodging lures travelers
Working in your eighties?
Medicare Basics
Recent News
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Your Health

Summer allergies and sinus problems?

For many people, warmer weather may mean the start of sneezing and wheezing, along with a stuffy nose and a tired feeling. Spring signals the start of seasonal allergies. The culprits can be outdoor molds and pollen from grass and trees. In late summer, ragweed pollens can be very high, which may make allergies even worse.

Allergic reactions may lead to mucus buildup inside sinuses or the hollow areas around your eyes and nose. Breathing in steam from a cup of hot water or putting a warm, wet towel on your face may help ease sinus discomfort. Drinking fluids may help thin the discharge from your nose.

Your pharmacist may be able to help. Over-the-counter saline nose sprays or solutions can help rinse out sinuses and prevent painful blockage. Antihistamines and decongestants may also give some relief, although it is important to seek advice from your doctor or pharmacist on their proper use.

Avoid allergy triggers
Pollen levels near plants generally are highest before 10 a.m., so limit your outdoor activities in the morning. When indoors, keep windows closed and your air conditioner running. Avoid alcoholic beverages, which can make swelling in sinuses worse.

To protect yourself from allergic reactions, you need to identify the substances that trigger your problems. The timing of attacks can be a clue to what causes them. You're probably sensitive to tree pollen if you suffer in early spring. Grass pollen dominates the late spring and summer months. Ragweed takes over in late summer and autumn.

Some people are sensitive to more than one pollen or to some trees and grasses, but not others.

Reducing exposure
These strategies may help reduce your exposure to outdoor allergens:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and keep windows and doors closed during peak pollen months - Avoid sleeping near an open window
  • Use air conditioners and replace filters at least every three months
  • Keep your windows and vents closed when riding in a car - Set the airflow to pre-circulate or use the air conditioner
  • Avoid open fields when you're outside, especially those that have just been mowed If you're sensitive to grass, walk on sidewalks and sit on benches, not on the lawn
  • Have someone else do your yard work - Mowing the lawn or raking leaves can make symptoms worse if you're allergic to the pollen of grasses, trees, ragweed, or mold
  • Learn the safest times to be outside - Pollen counts generally are highest during mid-day and afternoon hours
  • Don't hang sheets, towels, or blankets outside to dry - They're natural magnets for pollen
  • Monitor air-quality reports; avoid exercising outdoors when the pollen count is high
  • Warm up indoors before doing outdoor activities and cool down indoors to minimize your time outside
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses to protect your eyes, and don't rub them

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