Springtime is one of the most beautiful times of the year. Winter has ended, the flowers are blooming and most people want to spend time outside enjoying the weather. However, this time of year is uncomfortable and unpleasant for those who suffer from springtime allergies due to runny noses, puffy eyes and respiratory issues.
Here are seven ways to help reduce the symptoms of springtime allergies so you can get outside and enjoy this gorgeous time of year.
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Improve the Indoor Air Quality
When the outdoor air quality is bad and the pollen counts are wreaking havoc on your sinuses, it is essential to have a place where you can breathe easy and give your body a chance to recover. Unfortunately, indoor air quality is often just as bad as the outdoors due to mold spores, fungus and dust mites in your HVAC system and pollen infiltrating from open windows and doors.
Purchasing a portable air purifier with a HEPA filter can help clean your indoor air and eliminate allergens from your home. A HEPA filter works using positive air pressure to push air through a very fine mesh filter. This type of filter catches 99.97 percent of airborne particles larger than 0.3 micrometers, including pollen, dust, mold spores and other springtime allergens.
A portable air filter is useful because you can move it between rooms as needed. You can put it next to you when you are relaxing on the couch or place it next to your bed when you sleep. It can be your companion to make sure that the air around you is clean and free from any particles irritating your body.
If you have an air filter, it is important to change the filter regularly to ensure your air purifier is working properly. The EPA recommends changing your air filter when specified by the manufacturer or whenever the filter begins to look dirty. Check the filter regularly and change the filter often at the height of hay fever season.
Track Pollen Counts
One way to manage your springtime allergies is to monitor and track the current pollen counts. These counts fluctuate depending on the day and the weather. If you have a better understanding of the current and forecasted pollen counts, you can start a course of allergy medicine earlier for maximum effect or change plans to limit your outdoor exposure during peak days.
Often, local news channels or newspapers have a section on pollen counts along with the weather forecast, but there are several apps available that offer accurate, real-time pollen counts.
Weather-focused services like The Weather Channel and Accuweather offer weather forecast apps that include information on pollen and allergen counts. More specialized apps like My Pollen Forecast and Allergy Plus focus specifically on helping you understand your current pollen conditions and how best to plan around them.
Leave Your Shoes and Jacket Outdoors
Your clothes can pick up allergies like pollen while you are outside. These particles cling to the fabric and can be brought inside your house, significantly reducing your indoor air quality.
Basic hygiene steps like using doormats both inside and outside the house to clean your shoes can help reduce the amount of pollen tracked inside. It is a good idea to store your shoes and jackets outdoors in a safe and hygienic location, such as an outdoor closet or a garage.
If you must bring your shoes and jackets inside, it is important to clean them. Wiping them down with a damp cloth can get a lot of the larger particles. Using a portable sanitization machine helps sterilize them and eliminate some smaller particles the damp cloth missed.
Use a Saline Nasal Rinse
Many people who suffer from springtime allergies swear by nasal rinses. A saline nasal rinse cleans allergens from your nasal passage by irrigating it with a saline solution.
There are different methods for rinsing the nasal passages, including a Neti pot, a teapot-style applicator that you put up to your nostrils with your head slightly inverted. This method uses gravity to rinse the nostrils.
Other methods include a nasal spiral, squeeze bottle or mister, a gentler option typically preferred by those with sensitive nostrils. You can also try steam inhalation, which can help open your sinuses, alleviate inflammation and allow your body to remove nasal irritants naturally.
Some people feel this is almost a miracle cure for their symptoms, but others find that the sensation of washing out their nose is uncomfortable — even painful. Consult your primary care provider or an ENT before beginning this type of treatment because there may be factors that could lead to complications in some people and may worsen symptoms.
Shower and Wash Your Hair Before Bed
When the pollen count is high, it is almost impossible to avoid picking up some particles throughout the day. If you go to sleep without washing, those particles will stay on your body overnight, rub off on your pillows and sheets and bother your sinuses all night long.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to alleviate springtime allergy symptoms is to shower and wash your hair before going to sleep. This washes off any pollen particles and other allergens that have attached themselves to you throughout the day and helps you sleep better.
Also, ensure you change your bedding regularly to reduce overnight allergen exposure.
Modify Your Diet
An increasing amount of research shows that changes in your diet may help reduce your seasonal allergy symptoms. Certain foods known as cross-reactive foods can make your allergies worse, while other foods contain proteins, fats, oils or acids that help mitigate some allergy symptoms.
Foods like ginger and turmeric are anti-inflammatory and can help reduce inflammation in the sinuses caused by pollen. Citrus fruits like oranges, pomelo and tomatoes are full of immune system-boosting vitamin C. Recent studies have shown that certain fatty fish, particularly salmon, are full of eicosapentaenoic fatty acid that helps decrease the narrowing of nasal passages associated with seasonal allergies.
Take Allergy Medication
Those with severe allergy symptoms need to visit their doctor to see if over-the-counter or prescription allergy medication is a good option. Some common medications many people take during this part of the year are Cetirizine (Zyrtec), Loratadine (Claritin), Desloratadine (Clarinex) and Fexofenadine (Allegra).
Speak to your doctor about which medication might be right for you.
Stop and Smell the Flowers, and Enjoy It, too
Spring is a wonderful season, often the most beautiful part of the year. For those who suffer from seasonal allergies, it can be uncomfortable. Following these simple steps can help reduce some of the worst symptoms, improve your quality of life and help you get out there and enjoy this time of year in comfort.