Getting Ready for the Return of Spring Allergies
As anxious as all of us are for spring to begin, we also need to remember that the height of tree pollen season is not that far off. Trees generally begin to pollinate anywhere from January through April each year, depending on the severity or mildness of the winter. Usually, the pollen levels start out low, but gradually increase as more and more trees begin to have rising sap and vegetation leafing out.
Many different types of trees can produce allergy-inducing pollen, including:
As spring moves on and our outdoor environment gets greener, grass pollen levels also begin to rise. If you or your child are sensitive to both tree pollen and grass pollen, allergy symptoms may really begin to spiral out of control. In addition, outdoor molds emerge from their wintertime dormant state as soon as things begin to thaw, meaning that by late spring you could have a three factors working against you.
5 ways to minimize spring allergies
1. Know the pollen and mold counts! If you track when pollen and mold spore levels are highest, you will know when you or your child should stay indoors and when it is safer to be outside enjoying the welcome spring weather. Plan outdoor activities for when pollen counts are lowest, usually early mornings. Avoid scheduling activities on hot, windy days. More information on this topic can be found here: Do You Know Your Pollen Count?
2. Make an appointment to see your doctor now. If you or your child haven't been taking allergy medicines during the winter months, now is the time to get started again--before pollen levels begin to rise. It takes even the best allergy medicines at least a week or two of consistent use to reach full effectiveness. Check with your doctor about whether a prescription nasal steroid spray might be useful--some find that these sprays can be very helpful in controlling spring allergy symptoms. There are many options for treating allergies these days, and new ones are introduced each year. Find out how you can know which allergy medicine is best for you.
3. Keep the windows closed! Opening the screens and doors is mighty tempting in the spring after a few months of being stuck indoors, but mesh screens will not keep out pollen. So if you or your child have a pollen allergy, you’ll want to limit outdoor air from circulating in your home. Use your air conditioner, if needed. Also, change your air filters in your systems regularly, and use air purifiers with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters that can remove 99 percent of airborne allergens and irritants. Plus, when riding in a car, keep the windows up.
4. Get rid of pollen and mold in your indoor environment. Cleaning up your personal environment is one of the most fruitful steps you can take toward better allergy health. It's not easy, but you'll find a number of tips in this article that will get you started on the right track: Spring Cleaning Tips for Allergy Sufferers.
5. Use a nasal rinse to clean out your nasal passages. Saline nasal rinses, using a small "pot" or syringe, can be very helpful in gently rinsing pollen, dust mites and other allergens--not to mention mucus--out of your nasal airways. That can help minimize allergy symptoms. Check out this post I wrote about Clearing Out Nasal Allergies With Saline Irrigations. There are some important safety precautions and technique recommendations you should know, even for this relatively natural allergy treatment.
So, as you can see, there are a number of steps you can take right now to prevent spring allergies from becoming a huge issue later.