By Julie Funk
After a seemingly never-ending winter, we are all excited that warm spring days are finally arriving here in Chester County, PA. But for millions of Americans, the spring season brings with it a new set of challenges: runny noses, sneezing and itchy, irritated eyes. Tree pollen traveling through the air is the biggest culprit behind spring allergies, whereas weeds and grass tend to produce summer allergies; often referred to as hay fever.
The medical term for those experiencing spring or summer allergies is seasonal allergic rhinitis. Many people also suffer from allergic asthma, which can be triggered by high pollen counts. If this describes you, your first plan of action should be to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss an allergy treatment plan. This may include one or more allergy medications, and a possible discussion about allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots. Allergy shots are a long-term treatment plan that can help reduce symptoms for people who experience allergic rhinitis or allergic asthma.
In addition to visiting your healthcare provider to discuss any necessary treatment options, there are a number of things you can do to reduce the severity of your allergies when at home or outside.
- Keep doors and windows closed. It may be appealing to let fresh air into your home, but unfortunately, allergy-inducing pollen gets in as well.
- Remove your shoes before entering your home. This will reduce the amount of allergens tracked into the home.
- Don't allow pets in the bedroom. We love our pets, but if you suffer from pet dander allergies, it;s best to keep them out of the bedroom to provide an allergy-free zone.
- Take a shower and wash your hair at night. Washing your hair before bed will prevent you from pollen-covered pillows.
- Use allergy covers on your pillows and mattresses. This can help reduce dust mite allergies.
- Check pollen counts at Pollen.com and American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunologyand avoid outdoor activities on days when counts are high.
- Avoid outdoor activities at peak pollen times (dawn to 10 AM and dusk). Pollen is also higher on warm, breezy days.
- Wear a hat to cover your hair. This will help protect against pollen exposure.
- While in the car, set your air conditioner to the "recirculate air" setting. This will help reduce the amount of outside air, containing an assortment of allergens, from entering the vehicle.
- Be aware of potential asthma flare-ups due to weather changes. Examples are dry, windy days when pollen blows in the air; rainy or humid days when mold can grow, pollen is held closer to the ground, and dust mites thrive; cold air that often triggers coughing; hot days when air pollution is worse becoming a common asthma trigger.
This allergy season, make an appointment with your doctor or allergist, carry a few tissues with you and don’t let allergy triggers get in the way of enjoying the spring days you have waited for!
Additional Allergy Information from Chester County Hospital in West Chester, PA: