Spring comes to the US this year on March 20th. And with spring, comes the return of seasonal allergies. Those of you fortunate to only have seasonal allergies may have enjoyed a temporary respite from allergy symptoms during the colder months of the year, depending on where you live. (For instance, if you live in the South, where frosts are infrequent, you may never see a complete stopping of symptoms, simply because allergens remain present throughout the year).
And even if you have allergies year round like me, you may find that your symptoms lessen during the winter, while growing things lie dormant for the most part.
While spring officially arrives on the 20th, many parts of the country (such as Austin where my daughters live) have been having spring-like weather for weeks already. Other areas are still having snow. It's been a crazy year around the US for weather. One thing is for sure, though... If spring weather isn't already starting to bring warmer weather and blooming trees in your area, it will be soon.
So, are allergy symptoms inevitable once spring comes? The answer to that question is, "It depends."
It depends on what actions you have already taken and what actions you plan to take in the near future. If you saw my post back in January, you may have taken some steps to prepare for spring allergies, such as seeing your allergist to update your allergy treatment plan or starting up your antihistamine again.
Here are some suggestions to help you enjoy this spring, as allergy-free as possible:
1. Avoid your known indoor and outdoor allergens as much as you can. Staying indoors, especially in the morning or when it is windy and dry, can help you avoid the tree pollens that are common in the spring. If you must go out, then take a shower & change clothes when you return home, to get rid of pollen that may have collected on clothes and hair.
2. If you're not already taking an antihistamine, start one soon. It's important to know that antihistamines may take a few days to reach their maximum effect, so the sooner you start taking them, the better. Go for a second generation antihistamine, such as Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra (or their generic equivalents). Both Claritin and Zyrtec are available over the counter now, so you don't even need a doctor's prescription. There are also 2 great new eye drop medicines available over the counter for eye allergies, called Alaway and Zaditor. Both take effect immediately and can be used long-term without damaging your vision.
3. When you're indoors or even traveling by car, keep windows up and doors closed. It's tempting in the spring with balmy temperatures to want to throw open the windows to let fresh air in. But pollen will come in with the fresh air, so if you want to prevent allergy symptoms, don't do it!
4. Keep track of the pollen count. Knowing when pollens are at their highest can help you decide if it's "safe" to go outdoors. You can learn about pollen counts on this page and get pollen counts online at Pollen.com or Weather.com.
If you follow those tips and you're still having moderate to severe allergy symptoms, then a visit to your doctor may be in order. If you're not already connected with an allergist, this might be the time to ask your family doctor for a referral. You might also ask the allergist about allergy shots, which slowly desensitize you over time to your allergens and can decrease the need for allergy medicine.
Published On: March 17, 2008