A runny nose, coughing, red itchy eyes, sinus headaches. Seasonal allergies can be a big drag. Who wants to look like a weeping, sneezing miserable human being? It’s not a lost cause, though. With some recommendations from an allergist or pharmacist, there are plenty of things you can do to minimize the environmental assault.
The most common airborne allergens are grass, ragweed, and tree pollens. But many people are also allergic to dust mites (that live in house dust), mold spores, and animal dander (flakes of dried skin and saliva from your pets).
Tips for coping with allergies
One of the best ways to reduce or avoid allergic reactions is to simply stay away from the things that cause them. Here are some tips on what you can do:
- Say “bye-bye” to carpet: Pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold can easily get trapped in carpeting, so the best way to keep that stuff out of your room is to have a bare floor. Sorry to say, a tidy room is a good remedy.
- Cover it up: If you’re allergic to dust mites, cover your mattress, box spring and pillows with special zippered cases. Tell your parent you can get them online atwww.allergysolution.com. It’s a good idea to wash your bedding at least every two weeks in hot water to make sure you kill any dust mites are killed.
- Keep things clean: What’s outside often travels inside. If you have pollen allergies, take a shower and wash your hair before you go to bed so you don’t transfer pollen from your body to your pillowcase and sheets. This is especially important on days when the pollen count is high.
- Wash your pets: What’s good for you may be good for your pet, too. Your pet’s fur can contain not just dander, but pollen, too. Make sure your pets are brushed and washed regularly—and be sure to wash your hands if you touch them.
- Get tested: If you haven’t already, see an allergist and get a skin-prick test or blood test to find out exactly what you’re allergic to. The skin-prick test is done at the allergist’s office and takes about an hour and the blood test can be done at any hospital. Once your allergist gets the results, he or she can advise you as to what allergy medication you should take. See your allergist twice a year for follow-up visits.
- Take allergy medications pre-pollen season: Doctors tend to recommend taking allergy medication a few weeks before the pollen season starts because it’s harder to get your symptoms under control if you start taking the medication after the trees and weeds are already in full bloom. Follow your doc’s prescriptions.
- Get allergy shots: If you have severe year-round allergies, your doc may suggest allergen immunotherapy. This may be one way to get used to pet dander, too, so families don’t have to give away beloved pets. You start out getting injections of small amounts of what you’re allergic to in your upper arms every week to begin with and then gradually work your way up to having shots only once a month. Your body can gradually develop antibodies to help block your allergic reactions. However, shots are not used to treat food allergies.
- Wear a mask: As nerdy as it may look, if you’re allergic to grass pollen, wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth when mowing the lawn.
- Close it out: Try to keep your windows closed as much as possible, especially when the lawn is being mowed and the pollen count is high. Also, use an air conditioner to prevent pollen from coming into the house. Keep the windows up and the A/C on in the car, too.
- Stay inside in the morning: Pollen counts are highest between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., so avoid spending a lot of time outside during these hours (as if you’d be up that early anyway).