Ah, spring is here.
While April brings an official welcome to a fresh, new season, experts predict this spring will be one of the most uncomfortable of all time when it comes to allergies.
The reason? We didn’t have much of a winter this year. The mild conditions most of us experienced have brought forth a lovely display of early budding and blooming of trees and flowers (and shortly, grass)—and also encouraged more pollen to circulate in the air while shortening those freezing periods that normally kill off many mold spores and other allergens.
Nature’s “feast for the eyes” brings an invitation to come out from the winter months and spend more time outdoors. But it also brings a sharp increase in suffering with the symptoms of seasonal allergies: itchy and watery eyes, runny and stuffy nose, scratchy throat, sneezing…you know the list well by now.
I like to arm my patients in the Park Avenue Center for Wellbeing, as well as my coaching clients across the country—and now, YOU—with a few quick and easy strategies to win the allergy war with more ease and comfort.
Secret #1: Don’t let them in!
- Remove your shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in unwanted allergens. Remember, protecting your home from invasion by pollens and mold spores is the first step in creating a more allergy-free existence.
- Change or empty your home’s HEPA filters, and don’t forget about the filters in your AC and clothes dryer, too. When they’re clear and work well, they’ll eliminate 90 percent of airborne allergens.
- Take a warm shower as soon as you get in to remove pollen from your hair and skin. This is especially important before you go to sleep, so irritants don’t get into your pillow and sheets. And don’t forget to do the same for your pet.
- Wash bedding often, but use the dryer instead of line-drying. Beautiful spring days make it tempting to air dry clothes outdoors, but that’s an invitation to pollens and molds to move in.
- Need an excuse not to work on your yard? Inform your family I said that someone else—someone not allergy-prone—has to perform mowing, weeding, and gardening tasks during the spring. (You’re welcome—wink.)
Secret #2: Exercise and get around outside wisely.
- Avoid going outdoors at the highest pollen times, typically early morning to midafternoon, or when it’s dry and windy.
- Wear sunglasses to shield your eyes from pollen and give them a break from the itching pollen gives rise to.
- Pay attention to weather conditions, such as rain storms (which can lower pollen counts) and heavy downpours (which can hasten pollen release).
- Pay special attention to your breathing, especially if you’re asthma-prone.
- Drink lots of fluids. It’s always a good idea to hydrate during exercise, but in this season, extra H2O also helps keep you more comfortable by thinning congestion.
Secret #3: Avoid packing your allergies when you travel.
- Look up your destination’s local high pollen counts online before you go. Also get a rundown of allergens common to the area, which may be different from those you encounter at home. My favorite source for this: http://www.pollen.com/alert.
- Bring your own dust-mite pillow covers to use at your hotel. (I do.)
- Need the AC in the car? Switch to the “recirculate” setting for better pollen control, close the windows, and take fresh-air breaks only every few hours.
- Arm against dust mites and molds in hotel carpeting and bedding by asking for an allergy-proof, no-pet, or non-smoking room.
- Ask to switch rooms if yours is near the indoor pool area where higher mold counts are likely.
I’ll see you next time with even more allergy-fighting tips. In the meantime, get started. A few changes can go a long way to ease your symptoms.
I wish you more than just good luck in tackling one of the worst allergy seasons in history!