It’s a gorgeous sunny day. Warm breezes are blowing, flowers are blooming, and trees are budding. But you can’t enjoy any of it because your eyes are burning, you’re sneezing every 30 seconds, and you’ve got an aggravating itch in your throat. For many of us, springtime means seasonal allergies, commonly known as hay fever — it’s a season of antihistamines, tissues, sunglasses, and saline.
And if you’ve felt that allergy seasons are getting longer and harder to bear, you’re right.
An allergen is usually an otherwise harmless substance that, in some people, triggers an immune response. Allergy symptoms are caused by your body fighting off an allergen, which your immune system has identified as foreign and therefore dangerous. With seasonal allergies, the allergens are typically types of pollen and mold.
Our world’s changing climate has made pollen seasons longer in much of the U.S., and many plants are producing more pollen. In addition, milder winters provide a more favorable climate for mold spores. This means more allergens in the air around us.
Symptoms of seasonal allergies vary from person to person. People typically report some combination of these symptoms:
• Itchy, watery, puffy eyes
• Runny nose
• Scratchy throat or ears
• Skin rash
Allergies can’t really be eliminated, but they can be managed.
There are plenty of over-the-counter allergy relief options, such as antihistamines. There are also many ways you can combat symptoms without medication.
It may feel counterintuitive to shut the windows on a beautiful spring day, but when the trees are blooming, pollen is flying. Keeping the windows shut and using air conditioning or indoor fans is a good way to keep cool without exposing yourself to allergens.
Take a shower each night, wash your hair, and change your clothes before crawling into bed. During the day, especially if we’ve been outside, pollen and allergens collect on our hair and clothes. If we don’t wash them off, they will collect on our pillows and bedding during the night, giving us constant “in your face” exposure to allergens.
Nightly nasal irrigation or using a saline mist can help rinse pollen and dander out of your nose. Saline rinses can also moisten nasal passages, which can be helpful when dry air conditioning causes minor nose bleeds.
If you or a family member is suffering from allergies and avoiding the outdoors, it may be time to consult a healthcare provider. Access world-class virtual care via Carbon Health app or by visiting carbonhealth.com.
Carbon Health’s medical content is reviewed and approved by healthcare professionals before it is published, but it is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider about questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition, and before making changes to your healthcare routine.