When people say that “spring is in the air,” the only thing seasonal allergy sufferers can assume they are talking about is the pollen. The great big clouds of neon yellow powder wreak havoc on an estimated 1 in 5 Americans, turning their spring frolics into sneezing fits. Atlanta also ranks among the top 50 worst cities in America to have spring allergies.
Taking a few preventative steps can help lessen or prevent your ails before they reach critical mass. Here are several ways to show those plants you mean business and tackle your allergies head on:
Dry, windy days will be your worst enemy. These are the times that pollen travels the farthest and can penetrate all sorts of nooks and crannies. You can view the weather report before planning to spend time outside. Keep an eye on both wind speed and pollen count.
By contrast, days after it rains will become your best friend; this is when the pollen count will be at its lowest.
On days when pollen is at its worst, try to avoid going outside altogether. Obviously, you are going to have to get to work during the week, but find ways to minimize your time spent outside by parking as close to the house as possible and avoiding extra stops during your morning commute. Since pollen count is the highest in the early morning, try to take care of errands in the afternoon or after dark.
As for outdoor chores, delegate weed pulling and grass mowing to someone less sensitive for the time being, or wear a protective mask if you are the only person for the job.
Tangling with Mother Nature on her home turf is one thing, but when pollen begins infiltrating your home, it gets personal.
Remove all of your outer clothing the moment you step in the door, including your shoes. Keep them in a mud room, basement or somewhere away from the main living areas. Wash the clothes that you can as often as possible, and by all means do not hang dry them!
Shower to get pollen out of your hair before it settles and to get any remnants off your skin. Pets and kids spend a great deal of time outside, so make sure that they take a bath, too, before they lay down for the night.
Keep your windows shut at night, and consider using a dehumidifier to eliminate other potential irritants like spores or dust mites.
Another benefit of taking showers is that the steamy moisture breaks up any mucus in your lungs and sinuses.
For a true cleanse, use a nasal irrigation product. Devices like squeeze bottles and neti pots moisten your sinus passages and helps ease their inflammation. Be sure to use a saline solution made with distilled water, boiled water or water run through filters smaller than 1 micron to make sure that nasal irrigation does more good than harm.
One major step you can take is to change out your air filter early on and replace it with a HEPA certified filter. You can also run a personal HEPA filter in your bedroom while you sleep. Vacuuming can help pick up any particles that have settled on your floors or furniture, but only if you also use a HEPA filtered bagging system.
Run your car and your home’s AC often, and be sure that the area around the air intake is free of allergens like dust or pollen.
Taking medicines preemptively before going outside can help reduce the symptoms or histamine reactions you would have. Oral drugs like loratadine (Claritin, Alavert) or nasal sprays containing cromolyn sodium have enhanced effectiveness when taken before leaving the house on high pollen count days.
If none of these solutions seem to lessen your suffering, you may need to resort to measure like taking allergy shots. Visit our allergy treatments page to learn more about how professional treatments can have you loving spring as much as everyone else.