How to Survive Springtime Allergies
If there is yellow dust on the sidewalks, trees and every crevice of your car, that probably means it’s springtime in Arkansas. Spring is a refreshing time of year. However, with the flowers comes pollen, which is not good for those who suffer from allergies.
"Spring, especially in Arkansas, is a time when many people suffer from hay fever symptoms, including red itchy eyes, sneezing and nasal congestion," Dr. Charlie Smith, family medicine doctor at UAMS, said. "Use of loratadine, an over-the-counter, nonsedating antihistamine, is a good initial approach that can be sufficient treatment for many patients."
There is a tendency for allergies to occur in families, although the exact genetic factors that cause it are not yet understood. In susceptible people, factors such as hormones, stress, smoke, perfume or other environmental irritants may also play a role. Often, the symptoms of allergies develop gradually over a period of time.
Allergy sufferers may become so accustomed to chronic symptoms, such as sneezing, nasal congestion, or wheezing, that they do not consider their symptoms to be unusual. However, no one wants to suffer from nasal congestion and sneezing all spring. So what can be done about allergies? Try these 5 tips:
- During peak pollen times, don’t go outside unless you have to. The pollen counts are highest from about 5 – 10 a.m. Higher levels of pollen are usually found on warm, dry and windy days, and lower levels of seasonal pollens are found on windless, wet and cloudy days.
- Take a shower and change clothes after coming inside. Pollen collects on your clothes and in your hair after you have been outside for a significant amount of time. Dust off your shoes, too, so that you don’t track pollen in your house.
- Keep your doors and windows closed. You can't completely seal off your home, but keeping doors and windows closed can help prevent pollens and outdoor molds from entering. As the weather turns nicer, use the air conditioner rather than opening a window to bring in "fresh" air. Also, while you are driving, leave the windows up. If you can, adjust your vent to recirculate the air inside your car.
- Do a thorough spring cleaning. Windows, air conditioning vents and bookshelves collect dust and mold throughout the winter that can provoke allergy symptoms.
- Use over-the-counter antihistamines for relief. For some people, these drugs are very effective at reducing the classic symptoms of seasonal allergies, including sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and scratchy throat. Be aware that some older-generation antihistamines can cause sleepiness and the impairment of thinking and driving. Read the labels carefully and use nondrowsy formulas, or ask your pharmacist for assistance. Be aware that treatment for allergies is different for each individual.