When Pollen Counts Are High: How to Treat Hay Fever
Hay fever is a miserable thing to experience. The runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and itchiness in your nose, mouth, throat, eyes, or ears are actually symptoms of a pollen allergy known to experts as seasonal allergic rhinitis. It’s caused by pollen carried through the air, and when the pollen count is high, hay fever is at its worst. What can you do to combat it?
- First, establish the specifics of your allergies. For most people with hayfever, grasses and weeds are the cause of their suffering. Ragweed is a major culprit, but there are many other sources of weed pollen, including sagebrush, pigweed, and tumbleweed. Trees like birch, cedar, and oak get into the act as well, producing pollen that’s highly allergenic. Your doctor can identify your specific allergies using a plastic skin testing applicator holding a drop of the allergen that is applied to your back. If you’re sensitive to that allergen, you’ll have a reaction as a hive within about 20 minutes, although a reaction does not necessarily mean you have the allergy. Your health care provider can interpret the results and let you know for sure
- Keep track of pollen counts. If you monitor pollen counts in your area, you can limit your exposure on the days when the counts are high. Pollen counts are different than a pollen forecast because while a forecast is a prediction based on the previous year’s counts and current conditions, the counts are more specific. Measured with an instrument that collects spores for a 24-hour period, pollen counts are reported for specific trees, grasses, weeds, and mold.
- If you can’t steer clear of pollen, do what you can to remove pollen from your home. During pollen season, keep your windows closed and use an air conditioning filter designed to help prevent asthma and allergies. Bathe and shower before you go to bed, so that you don’t carry pollen onto your bedding, and wash your bedding in hot soapy water once a week. Wear sunglasses and a hat when you’re outside, and limit your contact with pets who’ve been outdoors. After you’ve been outside, change and wash your clothes, and don’t hang your laundry out to dry, but dry it in a clothes dryer.
- Make sure you’re taking the right medication in the right way. Typically, allergy medications work best if you use them proactively before your symptoms start. If you know you’re likely to come in contact with allergens, it’s smart to take your medication ahead of time to prevent the symptoms from becoming severe. In fact, you might even want to start taking your medication before pollen season begins. Your doctor can recommend the best medicine to combat your allergies, which may include antihistamines, decongestants, nasal corticosteroids, nasal spray, or leukotriene receptor antagonists.
- If you don’t respond well to medications, and your allergies are still bothering you, an allergist can recommend further treatment. Allergy immunotherapy is a tried and true remedy for allergic reactions, and most people experience complete relief from symptoms within one to three years of starting immunotherapy, and long after discontinuing them. The physicians of Allergy & Asthma Specialists prescribe immunotherapy is three forms, injection, drops and tablet.
Whatever the season, understanding your allergies and knowing how to manage them can help you live a healthy, symptom-free life. When you enlist the help of an experienced, board-certified allergist, you can be confident that your doctor will help you find the solutions you need to manage your allergies. At Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM, all physicians are board-certified in allergy and immunology and can help you identify triggers and learn to control your symptoms. Call 610-825-5800 or visit the website for an appointment, or to learn more about available services.