As the weather begins to warm again, that most joyous time of year is nearly upon us – spring! Sunshine, warm temperatures, daffodils, and blooming plants of all varieties. It’s official, spring allergies arrive… and just in time for Easter! By looking back on were we’ve been these last few months and peeking ahead as to what the the broader outlook for the year looks like, we can get a pretty good idea of how miserable allergy season is going to be. You didn’t think I was just going to talk about bunny rabbits and Easter eggs did you? As much I would like to, that’s really not going to help anyone with seasonal allergies, other than by offering a temporary distraction. So, on that note….
Now that that’s been covered, time to move on to more pressing matters. From dogwoods and oaks to all manner of tree and bush, plants are shaking off their winter slumber and springing back to life – dumping pollen into the air. Now it also the time when those articles start popping up all over the place, “Worst Allergy Season – EVER!”. I do sometimes wonder, has someone with allergies ever went through a spring and thought, “Hhhmmmm…. not bad!” The reality is, this is how spring allergies are going to go.
While this winter was harsh enough to push the start of allergy season further into the year, the very wet nature of this winter is likely to mean high pollen counts. So while the spring allergy season is likely to be a little shorter than recent years, don’t expect the trend of increased pollen counts and intensity to take a break.
With all this being said, what can you do in terms of relief?
There are several places to start, but we almost always recommend the bedroom. You’ll spend more time here (typically 6-8 hours sleeping) than any other room in the home. Here are some quick hitter solutions to getting a better night’s sleep while the pollen flies.
Air – With warmer temperatures, many of us are likely to want to open the window. I know for myself, as soon as the temperature creeps above 60° or so, my windows are open. With allergies, you can either keep the windows closed or try something like a window filter. While these don’t offer HEPA filtration (to do so would completely block airflow), they do a great deal of the pollen in the air. The other item that can help clear up your indoor air is a HEPA air purifier. Something like an Austin air purifier is a simple way to remove the allergens. The HEPA/carbon filter lasts years before needing to be replaced, and the controls are simple.
Floors – Your floors are often the final resting place of allergens, including dust, dander, mold spores, and pollen. While you can trap a great deal of this particulate with an air purifier, you’re still likely to track allergens in. Regardless of flooring type, you can not only keep them looking good but free of allergens with a high quality HEPA vacuum cleaner. When considering a HEPA vac, keep in mind quality. You often get what you pay for, and lower quality vacuums can leak and simply redistribute allergens instead of actually removing and trapping them.
Clothes – When the pollen counts are high, it’s literally sticking to your clothes and then being brought into your home. Many find themselves washing their laundry more frequently. While regular washing can greatly reduce allergens trapped in your clothes, an anti-allergy laundry detergent can denature protein allergens that escape the normal wash cycle. Ecology works produces a plant-based detergent that is gentle of clothes, free of dyes and added fragrance, ultimately making it easier on your skin.
Outdoors – Avoid going out on days when the pollen count is going to be exceptionally high. This is easier said than done for many, but an allergy mask can make a big difference in blocking pollen and other allergens while you’re outdoors. Though it can be a little dreary, right after a light rain, pollen levels in the air can dip, so this might not be a bad time to get some of your outdoor activities knocked out.
Medication – Antihistamines are the soup du jour when it comes to combating allergies. While most people take these AFTER they begin to experience symptoms, most allergists actually recommend you being taking them just prior to the onset of the allergy season. These help by tamping down the immune response to pollen – inflammation. There are over the counter as well as more powerful prescription antihistamines available, and a quick stop by your local board certified allergist can give you a better idea of which route to go. Or, you can always try OTC methods first, and if relief is still elusive, consult your doctor for more options.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Checking your local pollen counts, wearing a mask while outdoors, taking your shoes off when you come inside the home, and bathing your pet (if you have one) more frequently during allergy season are all things that can also help you avoid exposure to pollen.
Do you have any tips or hints you’d like to share? Leave a comment or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise stay tuned for another potential Easter Bunny sighting.
Author: K. Gilmore