Managing Your Spring Allergies
If you suffer from “hay fever” in the spring, chances are it’s caused by a sensitivity to pollen from trees, grasses or weeds. Symptoms can include:
- Stuffy nose due to blockage or congestion
- Itching, in the nose, mouth, eyes, throat or skin
- Puffy, swollen eyelids
- Rashes- eczema, contact dermatitis and hives
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
Minimize Allergy Symptoms
- Beginning your meds two to three weeks early can help ease symptoms all month long. Medications like Zyrtec® and Claritin® are effective in fighting seasonal allergies.
- Stay indoors as much as possible when pollen counts are at their peak, usually during the mid-morning and early evening (this may vary according to plant pollen), and when wind is blowing pollens around.
- Avoid using window fans that can draw pollens and molds into the house.
- Wear glasses, preferably sunglasses, when outdoors to minimize the amount of pollen getting into your eyes.
- Wear a pollen mask (such as a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask) when mowing the lawn, raking leaves or gardening and take appropriate medication beforehand.
- Don’t hang clothing outdoors to dry; pollen may cling to towels and sheets.
- Try not to rub your eyes; doing so will irritate them and could make your symptoms worse.
You can control some symptoms with over-the-counter medications
Decongestants: Decongestants help relieve the stuffiness and pressure caused by swollen nasal tissue. They do not relieve other symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Antihistamines: Antihistamines help relieve nasal allergy symptoms such as sneezing and an itchy runny nose; eye itching, burning, tearing and redness; and itchy skin, hives and eczema. They can be eye drops, nasal sprays or oral medications.
Intranasal corticosteroids: This is the single most effective drug class for treating allergic rhinitis. Medicines like Flonase® and Nasacort® can significantly reduce nasal congestion as well as sneezing, itching and a runny nose. Talk with your healthcare provider to see whether these medications are appropriate and safe for you.