April showers bring May flowers. Those rains can also bring on springtime seasonal allergies. It is estimated that 35 million people in the U.S. suffer from seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever.
Why is springtime such a peak season for allergies?
With the rain and moisture, there is also an increase in the mold, tree and grass pollens, dust mites, and animal dander. Tree pollens start in late March/early April, then decreases, while grass pollens increase in May/June. Weed pollens (e.g. ragweed) is usually later in the summer and early fall.
The allergy season can vary tremendously based on where you live, but for the most up-to-date information you can visit the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology website. Because of the warmer temperatures during the winter, trees and plants are blooming earlier. Climate change may also be making your allergies worse because of the increased temperatures and moisture in the air. We have had a mild winter, so this could be a rough season for allergies.
Symptoms of allergies and when to see a doctor
The symptoms of allergies are similar to symptoms of colds, viruses and even the flu. Some common complaints are runny nose and eyes, post-nasal drip, cough, skin rashes, sneezing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, or even sinus pressure.
Allergies can trigger breathing problems like asthma and emphysema. Anyone with a lung condition should be on high alert. Allergies have also been linked to migraines. If your symptoms are lasting longer than a week, it is probably not just a cold. It is more likely to be due to allergies. If you have a fever, it’s more likely to be a virus or even the flu. We are seeing a peak of flu right now. If you are not sure, it may be best to consult with your healthcare provider.
Tips to decrease your allergies this season
- Know your triggers. Check the allergy forecast and workout/stay indoors if possible.
- Avoid going outside on windy days, especially in the morning.
- Keep windows and doors closed to minimize exposure to outdoor allergens.
- Wash you bed sheets and pillowcases weekly to decrease dust mites.
- Take a shower if you have been outside for a long period of time. Wash off the pollens on your hair, clothes and skin.
- Outsource your cleaning and lawn work if possible.
How to treat allergies
- Start taking medications, like anti-histamines and steroid nose sprays early on. Don’t wait until you are completely miserable. If you do take a decongestant, just be careful if you have high blood pressure as these medications can increase your blood pressure.
- Get allergy testing through skin or blood tests to determine what triggers your allergies. This can help you better know what your triggers are (so you can avoid them).
- Allergy shots may be an option, consult your healthcare provider. Allergists can also give you shots to help decrease your own body’s allergic response by giving you small doses of the trigger(s).
- Prevention is key. Don’t forget to allergy-proof your house!
Get rid of carpets and rugs. Use the tips above to help decrease your exposure to allergens in the house.
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