How to Prepare Now to Keep Seasonal Allergies in Check
Seasonal allergies can be such a bummer. I dealt with them a lot as a kid and as it turns out my son also deals with them every spring. In fact, they get so bad for him that they trigger some of the worst asthma attacks that he has throughout the year. Needless to say, dealing with seasonal allergies is a pretty serious topic around our house.
I had no idea how absolutely terrible seasonal allergies could get until the military moved us to Arkansas. We had been in areas where it snowed more months out of the year than not. We lived through earthquakes and typhoons in Japan. However, Arkansas brought a whole new world of crazy weather our way the first time that we walked out in the morning to see a car covered in green, funky pollen. If you haven’t lived in the South it can be quite a site the first time you realize that it not only rains a lot in Arkansas but it actually “pollens”.
Through the years we have learned a few quick tips and tricks to help take a proactive attack when it comes to dealing with seasonal allergies. In the long run, it’s way better to go into the spring allergy season prepared than to try to catch up and handle things once symptoms of seasonal allergies begin to rear their ugly head.
Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether you are dealing with seasonal allergies or an upper respiratory infection. Unfortunately, the symptoms of both conditions can be very similar. At times, the symptoms of a cold can be accompanied by a fever. Other times, they are quite similar to allergy symptoms. If you are experiencing symptoms that last longer than a week to 10 days it is a good idea to look into an allergy treatment as a cold or upper respiratory infection will generally resolve in this period of time.
Typical Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies Include:
- sinus pressure or congestion
- runny nose
- post nasal drip
- sore throat
- itchy or watery eyes
Preparing Your Home
One of the easiest ways to help keep seasonal allergies from taking hold of your life is to prepare your home to keep allergens out. This can come in many forms but each of these are simple changes you can make to keep your home from becoming an environment that breeds dust, mold, pollen, and other allergens.
Create a Dusting and Cleaning Schedule
It is so important to clean regularly, including dusting and sweeping the floor to keep allergens from following you into the home when you come in from the outside world. We can carry pollen, dust, and other irritants in with us on our clothes and then deposit them throughout the house. By cleaning regularly we can help keep these things from becoming overwhelming to our bodies.
Keeping Allergens Out of the Home
When warm weather comes around we often want to start opening our windows to let the warm air and sunshine in. Unfortunately, this can be a quick way for allergens to get into our homes as well. On warm, windy days it is best to keep windows shut to help keep allergens outside where they belong rather than letting them blow in through open windows.
Checking for Mold
Unfortunately, there are some allergens that can appear in our home no matter how hard we try to keep them out. It is important to check for any potential mold growth when warmer weather comes around. One way to check all of the possible places mold could be hiding is to think of it like bacteria. Mold, like bacteria, likes to grow anywhere that offers a warm, dark, and wet environment. This means checking under sinks, in crawlspaces, on shower curtains, and any other areas in the home that create this type of environment.
Note: If you do find mold in your house it is important to use a proper cleaner in a well-ventilated environment and to use the proper protective gear to keep from spreading any potential spores while removing it.
Keeping an Eye on Allergens
If you know that seasonal allergies are a problem for you it can be beneficial to keep an eye on the conditions in your area. You can track things like the weather, pollen count, and even the air quality in your local area to know what you are getting into before stepping outside.
Planning Your Day
If possible, try to plan your day around times that allergen levels will be lower. In general, it is best to avoid early morning hours as this is when many flowers and other plants tend to open up and release pollen and other allergens. It can also be beneficial to wait until after a rain shower so that pollen won’t be blowing around on a warm breeze but rather settled by the rain.
Tracking the Pollen Count
Many local news websites will offer a pollen count during peak allergy season. You can also find information for your local area on national weather sites such as The Weather Channel. There are a variety of weather apps available for Android and iOS as well that can tell you the pollen count in your local area. If you know exactly what allergens bother you there are many options that will give you information on specific allergens.
Checking Local Air Quality
While similar to the pollen count, the local air quality report available through many local news websites can give you a general idea of the breathing issues that may be present in your local area. This can include many irritants including pollution, dust, and allergens. For many, poor air quality days can exacerbate allergy symptoms or cause them.
Seeing Your Doctor for Seasonal Allergies
For many people, it is common to wait until they are experiencing the symptoms of seasonal allergies to see the doctor. However, if you know that you experience seasonal allergy symptoms every year it is better to be proactive and visit your doctor to get treatment started before things start to go south.
If you experience seasonal allergies every spring but aren’t quite sure why it may be a good idea to visit an allergist to have testing done. During testing, you will be exposed to minute amounts of various allergens. If you are non-reactive you can rule a specific allergen out. However, if your body starts to produce histamines (usually present as redness or inflammation) in response to being exposed to an allergen you know that this is one that is best avoided if possible.
Do you find yourself going to the doctor for Zyrtec or Flonase every spring? If you are able to identify a pattern of when you start to experience allergy symptoms each year and medication that best helps to deal with those symptoms it may be a good idea to visit your doctor to start those medications to prevent allergic reactions before they begin.
Acupuncture for Allergies
Some studies have shown that acupuncture can be helpful in preventing seasonal allergy symptoms from becoming overwhelming. If you have access to an acupuncturist it may be worth a trip before allergy season starts to help build your immune system before it starts producing those histamines.
Clearing Allergens from Your Life
Sometimes no matter what we do there will be allergens and irritants that find their way into our everyday lives. When you’ve done everything right to avoid bringing allergens into your home but are still having seasonal allergy symptoms it may be time to look into clearing them from your system as well as clearing the air your breath.
Keeping Things Humid
Using a high-quality humidifier can be an excellent way to help clear allergens from the air that find their way into our homes. It is important to find a humidifier that covers the area needed as well as one that offers a mold and mildew free experience. It is also important to be sure that you are cleaning your humidifier regularly to help keep mold and allergens from congregating on the humidifier itself.
Clearing Allergens from Your System
Sometimes allergens find themselves residing in our sinuses or caught in the tiny little cillia (hairs) of our nose. When you just can’t shake congestion or a constant urge to sneeze it may be a good time to purchase a neti pot or other nasal irrigator. I get it. These can be really intimidating (or is that just me?). However, they are quite simple to use and can bring real relief when it comes to irritants that refuse to go away.
Keeping Your Diet in Check
It’s no surprise that the food that you put into your body can play a major role in the strength of your immune system. It is important to understand the effect that food can have on you and how you can better prepare yourself for things such as allergy season by eating foods that build your immune system rather than those that weaken it.
More Fruits and Vegetables
There is no arguing that fruits and vegetables are good for the body. However, they are especially important when it comes to the immune system. Many fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants. These antioxidants can help to fight free radicals in the body to keep the immune system strong.
Many fruits also contain Vitamins, such as Vitamin C, that are great for both strengthening the immune system as a whole and for helping the immune system fight the histamine response brought on by contact with allergens.
Boosting Immunity with Green Tea
Drinking a nice warm green tea can be a great way to clear sinus congestion after the symptoms of seasonal allergies start to become bothersome. However, it can also be a great way to avoid the symptoms of allergies altogether. The flavonoids in green tea, such as quercetin, can be great at boosting the immune system and fighting the histamine response.
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