Spring weather and emerging green plants may have people rushing outside to enjoy the outdoors after being cooped up all winter. After just a few picnics and trips to the park, however, the dreaded foe lifts its head.
It’s allergy season.
No matter how well you prepare, the symptoms seem to always appear out of nowhere, leaving you scratchy, sniffly and red for the next several weeks.
Springtime is here, and as soon as things start growing, that’s your cue to avoid unnecessary contact with allergens. No matter how beautiful the weather, try to keep your window closed, or all those lovely allergens will make their way into your home along with the fresh spring air. Take a shower soon after you spend time outside, because allergens stick to fabric, hair and skin. You don’t want to drag allergens all over your home. If you go to bed without showering after being outside, you could literally be sleeping in a bed of allergens, and after 8 hours of lying in them, you could wake up with very irritated symptoms.
Additionally, wash your sheets and clothes as often as possible, preferably in hot water. Your home could be storing up allergens all over the place, but throwing away rugs and old carpet in exchange for hard flooring could make a big step toward your family’s health. Allergens and dust mites can settle deep into the carpet or the weave of a rug.
If you want to enjoy the weather or can’t avoid being outside, combat potential allergies before they even hit. Take an antihistamine about 30 minutes before going outside to minimize a reaction. Bring along symptom treatments just in case.
You don’t have to “tough it out.” A looming board meeting, inability to sleep or exaggerated symptoms can make even the adamant cave in for some over-the-counter relief. Start with an antihistamine (non-drowsy for daytime!) to reduce any irritation. Claritin and Zyrtec are some of the most common. If your nose remains stuffy, you can also use a saline (salt water) nasal spray to clear the nasal passage. If that doesn’t work, you may opt for an over-the-counter nose spray, but keep this warning from WebMD in mind:
Your nose becomes dependent on the nasal spray and stops working the way it should when the spray is overused, he explains. This causes rebound congestion — meaning the treatment loses power the more you use it. When the spray stops working, the congestion comes back with a vengeance. If you’re hooked, nasal steroids can help you kick the habit and improve your congestion during the spring allergy season.
How can you tell if an over-the-counter nasal spray might be long-term trouble? Check the label for a warning — if it says “don’t use the spray for more than three days at a time,” pay attention.
See a Professional
If you’ve tried everything to no avail, you may need to see a professional. They can test you to find out what specific allergens cause a reaction as well as provide extra strength treatment. These can include nasal steroids, antihistamines, leukotriene modifiers and even allergy shots.