Are you starting to hear these sounds? Birds chirping, lawn mowers starting, people sniffling and sneezing? Basically, they’re the sounds of spring—and of your seasonal allergies kicking up.
Allergies are irritating by definition. But their effects can be beyond annoying. They can cause you to lose sleep, miss out on work or social engagements, and they can develop into more serious conditions such as asthma, sinusitis, or infections of the ears or lungs.
The best time to start caring for your seasonal allergies is before they get really bad. These easy steps can help you better deal with your seasonal allergy woes, and can help make your symptoms less severe:
Know what triggers your allergies.
If you keep a health journal, look back to understand what time of year your symptoms started, and even what the weather may have been at the time. You can also consult an allergist and have testing done to determine which pollens or other allergens (molds, pets, etc.) cause you to have a reaction. The allergist can also help form a treatment plan to address all your allergic reactions.
Start your allergy medications before you show symptoms.
Whether you use nasal sprays or oral medication, begin taking your antihistamine one to two weeks before your seasonal allergies usually start. Beginning the medication early can decrease the severity of your symptoms.
Stay on your meds.
Take your medications as directed, and take them consistently, not just when your symptoms are bad.
Keep track of the pollen count.
Many online weather apps feature a pollen forecast and air quality reports. On high pollen days keep windows closed and use air conditioning on the recirculate setting. And if you’ve spent a lot of time outside, shower before going to bed. It helps to keep pollen from aggravating you when you should be safe inside.
Try nasal washes or a Neti pot.
Because drainage from your nose and sinuses can make rhinitis and asthma worse, especially at night, clearing your sinuses of stray pollen and other allergens can make a big difference. Make sure you follow directions, clean the applicator, and use the recommended saline formula and purified water.
If changes to your environment and over-the-counter medications aren’t helping, see your doctor. If your symptoms seem asthmatic, or if you’ve suffered from asthma in the past and feel your allergies might be triggering an attack, seek emergency treatment. Some signs of an asthma attack are: rapidly worsening shortness of breath or wheezing, shortness of breath during little to no physical activity, and no improvement even after using a quick-relief inhaler, such as albuterol.