Decreasing Risks for Seasonal Allergies
Spring is in the air and, as tempting as it may be to get outside to enjoy the warmer weather or open your windows for the wonderful spring breeze, you may think twice if you suffer from spring allergies. If you experience seasonal allergies, you are not alone. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, some 35 million Americans are suffering right along with you.
Allergies are diseases of the immune system that cause an overreaction to certain substances called allergens. There are many different types of allergies, and outdoor allergies are commonly referred to as hay fever. Hay fever occurs when allergens such as pollen from trees, weeds or grass or mold spores are inhaled into the nose and lungs. Much pollen is released in the early morning hours, from 5:00 to 10:00, and travels best on warm, dry, breezy days.
The body’s overreaction to the pollen causes many symptoms:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Post-nasal drip
- Occasionally one may notice dark circles under the eyes or, if allergies are severe, wheezing
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing lists several preventative measures in their book Ask a Nurse: From Home Care to Hospitals:
- Read product labels carefully to avoid substances you react to.
- Use an air conditioner or air purifier.
- Get rid of dust collectors such as carpet, throw pillows and drapes.
- Increase your dietary intake of essential fatty acids.
- Increase your dietary intake of vitamin C to at least 1,000 mg. daily.
- Keep windows/doors closed and avoid outdoor activity when pollen counts are high.
- Use a dehumidifier to reduce growth of dust mites, molds and fungi during summer months.
- Avoid hanging clothes, sheets or blankets outside to dry.
- Encase your mattress and pillows in plastic to reduce the amount of dust mite particles in the air.
- Avoid doing yard work, mowing or raking leaves.
- Change clothes and shower as soon as possible after outdoor activities to get rid of pollen.
If you find these tips helpful but you still continue to have symptoms of seasonal allergies, you may want to visit with your doctor or asthma/allergy specialist.
Melanie Yunger is a nurse practitioner and freelance writer who resides in the Kansas City area.
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.