The trees are mobilizing, the grass is greener, and the flowers blooming could only mean one thing: Spring is just around the corner, and so is allergy season. The sneezing, itchy-eyes, and congestion could lead allergy sufferers to long for the days of sleet and slush, but this doesn’t mean you should remain homebound during the warmer months. If you’re itching for allergy relief this spring, here are eight ways to prepare for allergy season inside and outside the home to keep you symptom-free.
1. Avoid Allergy Triggers
One of the best ways to prevent the worsening of allergies is to avoid or get rid of the triggers as soon as possible, Dr. Ed Neuzil, a nurse practitioner and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Central Florida told Medical Daily. “People with strong grass or ragweed allergies may suffer from oral allergy syndrome, which happens when your body’s immune system mistakes proteins in certain fruits with the allergy-causing grass, tree, or weed pollens,” he said. These fruits include apples, peaches, pears, and melons. As a rule of thumb when eating fruits, munch with caution, and stop consuming if your lips begin to tingle, or if your throat gets scratchy.
2. Eat Healthily
To eat healthily could mean different things to different people. However, avoiding certain foods could help reduce your risk of allergies. Genetically engineered (GE) foods, common in the American diet, have been show to trigger allergies and asthma. A study in the journal PNAS found junk food may reduce microbial richness or healthy bacteria, which can lead to a rise in allergic and inflammatory diseases. In other words, the lack of beneficial bacteria in the intestine will allow allergies, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases to be present where they otherwise wouldn’t.
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight or obese could make it difficult for you to breathe, which could be detrimental if you suffer from allergies. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says people who have more fat stored around their neck are susceptible to experiencing pauses in their breathing or shallow breaths, especially in their sleep. In addition, fat that is stored in the abdomen can prevent your lungs from expanding and the diaphragm from moving downward because of the excess fat. Losing weight may help improve your breathing, and could alleviate allergy symptoms.
4. Limit Use of Allergy Medication
At the very first sign of sneezing, itching, and coughing, your first instinct may be to use medication. However, allergy sufferers are advised to limit the use of Afrin-like medications and allergy eye drops. “These are addictive to the nose and should not be used for more than 3 days in a row,” Dr. Milo F. Vassallo, allergist in New York City told Medical Daily in an email. Vassallo advises to not overdo the eye drops that “get the red out” because the ingredient naphazoline can be bad for the eyes if it’s used regularly. Instead, opt for those with only the ketotifen ingredient.
5. Clean Your Air Conditioning and Furnace Filters
If you have your AC installed year-round, be sure to clean the filter before spring comes. It’s important to change the filters every three months and use pollen filters or screens for the window, says Vassallo. Pollen filters such as minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) tell you how well the filter can remove pollen and mold from the air — rating eight to 12.
6. Spring Clean Your Bedroom
It’s easy for dust to accumulate behind the bed, under the bed, on the dressers, and even on the ceiling fan. Simply use a wet cloth to eliminate dust and dust mite-prone areas, such as carpeting, blinds and curtains, and stuffed animals, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. As for your bed, wash everything in 130-degree water, and wipe the mattress with a damp cloth.
7. Shower and Wash Your Hair Before Bed
Practicing good hygiene is always important, especially during allergy season. Taking a shower or washing your hair before going to bed, says Vassallo, can help remove any pollen trapped in the hair and skin. Failure to do so may increase the possibility that the pollen “transports in doors and onto the pillows.” Overall, cleaning up before bed can reduce irritation.
8. Change Your Front Entrance
The snowy winter months could have made a doormat a permanent fixture in your front door, but it may not be so good when it comes to spring allergy season. A doormat that is made from natural material, such as rope or other fibers, can deteriorate and become a site for mites, mold, and fungus that can get into the house. Also, encourage your family and house guests to take off their shoes before entering the house to reduce the amount of allergens that enter.
9. Wear Your Glasses or Sunglasses Outside
The best way to protect your eyes during allergy season is to cover them by wearing your glasses or sunglasses outside. This keeps away pollen and other irritants away from this area and reduces itchiness and redness, says Yale Health. You can also wear a hat with a wide brim to also reduce pollen exposure.
By Lizette Borreli
March 14, 2014