Spring is in the air, bringing new blooms, budding trees and breathing problems for many of us. Springtime allergies are a rite of passage for 35 million Americans, bringing sniffles, sneezing and misery. May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month and it's time to understand how you can protect yourself from allergies during the spring and throughout the year.
When it comes to springtime allergies, the biggest culprit is pollen, which is released by much of the blooming foliage and serves to fertilize other plants. When pollen enters the nose of someone who is allergic, the immune system fires up and triggers reactions like runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes and more.
So who has allergies?
It's more common than you think. One of five Americans from children to adults suffer from allergies or asthmatic symptoms. While there are many treatment options available, allergies can often be managed with lifestyle approaches rather than medication, which can have unpleasant side effects. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, try these tips to keep them under control:
- Try to determine exactly what you are allergic to and avoid it. It could be pollen, dust, animals, molds or something else.
- Keep notes and records about when your allergies are worse. Does it happen just at certain times of the year, day, etc.?
- If you're allergic to pollen, plan your outdoor activities when pollen counts are at their lowest. Wear a mask or face covering if you need to.
- Shower and change clothes immediately after spending time outside. Leave shoes and other outerwear outside or keep it stored in a closet near the door.
- Keep your home clean and free of dust. If you need, you can purchase a HEPA air filter to reduce the amount of dust in your home.
If you need additional relief from your allergies and your provider determines you need medication, be sure to ask your provider for a generic or over-the-counter alternative. To learn more about National Asthma and Allergy Awareness month, visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America's website.