Ah, spring! It’s the time when windows open and flowers start to bloom. But with the warmer weather comes seasonal allergies and the associated sneezing, watery eyes and, sometimes, even asthma. Lauren F. Knowles, MSN, FNP-BC, a Lahey Hospital & Medical Center Nurse Practitioner, cares for many patients who suffer from seasonal allergies. She shared some tips to nip spring allergies in the bud.
Typically we recommend you start preparing right before spring allergies start, about one to two weeks before. For most people this is when the temperature is consistently 50 to 60 degrees.
“Somewhere around the end of March, beginning of April, in New England is a great time to start taking your antihistamine (Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra),” Knowles said. “It’s easier to stay ahead of your body’s histamine (allergic) response than try to catch up after it’s started.”
Good cleaning is essential, Knowles said. “Wash all bedding, including comforters, bed spreads, and pillow cases. Washing them regularly during peak pollen times is important as well. Ensure you have allergen barrier pillow cases,” she said. “Also, vacuum regularly and dust to remove pollen from surfaces in your home. Change air filters in your house system and your car to help filter the pollen out of the air you are breathing.”
Peak Pollen Tips
During times when pollen is at its peak, follow this advice:
- Close windows in your house and drive with windows up in the car.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Shower at night to remove allergens from your hair and skin.
- Avoid touching your face and eyes.
“Pollen counts are highest in the morning, so try to avoid outdoor activities at that time,” Knowles said. “If you have been working outside, remove and wash these clothes when you come back inside to remove allergens.”
Treating Pollen Without Pills
“Saline nasal spray and saline eye drops can help flush pollen/allergens from the body in addition to hand washing,” Knowles said. “If you are not interested in allergy pills, over-the-counter antihistamine nasal sprays and eye drops can be helpful for symptoms (Flonase, Alaway). Of course, always check with your primary care provider before using any medications.”
For more information on how to keep allergies at bay, speak to your primary care physician.