Spring is upon us! There are many things to appreciate about this season but if you suffer from seasonal allergies, you may not be looking forward to everything being in bloom. This year, instead of dreading the season, be proactive about preparing your sinuses for what’s about to happen.
Understand what’s about to happen to your sinuses. If you suffer from allergies, allergic triggers can cause your sinuses to become inflamed. This inflammation causes the nasal passages to swell and creates drainage, leading to headaches, snoring that disrupts your sleep, and post-nasal drip that can upset your stomach and cause gastric reflux.
Be proactive in avoiding pollen. If you’re experiencing allergic symptoms in the spring, they’re probably caused by a reaction to grass and tree pollen. It’s hard to get away from pollen because it can travel great distances, but you can work on avoiding pollens and keeping them out of your home by taking some simple steps.
Use your air conditioning and keep the windows closed, at home and in your car.
Pay attention to pollen counts and stay inside when they’re high, as well as when the weather is dry and windy.
Because tree pollen peaks in the early morning, grass pollen in the afternoon, choose other times for your outdoor activities.
Shower and wash your hair nightly to keep pollen out of your bed.
Don’t mow your lawn or be around the freshly-cut grass. If you have no option but to mow, wear goggles and a mask.
Use your dryer instead of hanging your laundry to dry outdoors.
Wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face or rub your eyes, especially when you’ve been outside.
Keep your pets clean, cleaning their paws and fur when they come inside to reduce the allergens they carry into the house.
Make your home airway friendly. Change your HVAC filters frequently to remove dust and dander from the air in your home and use a humidifier to keep the air moist. Moist air can help to soothe irritated mucus membranes and thin the mucus in your sinuses so that it’s easier to expel. When you keep your sinuses clear, you’ll be less likely to develop sinus infections.
Stay hydrated. The proper hydration can help your mucus membranes function properly and successfully ward off congestion and infections. When your body is well-hydrated, your mucus will remain thin and able to flow freely. You can drink sports drinks, juice, and tea to support hydration, but water is the best option for protecting your mucus membranes and helping your sinuses to drain.
Stock up on sinus-pampering supplies. There are plenty of products available to help keep your sinuses healthy by promoting good nasal drainage. One device is the Neti Pot, a small container with a spout-like shape, used to introduce water into one nostril and allow it to drain through the other. You can effectively use this device to flush your sinuses, as long as you make sure to use distilled or sterile water rather than tap water, which can raise your risk of sinus infection. Saline spray is a great over-the-counter treatment for promoting healthy mucus membranes. Keep warm compresses on hand, to relieve sinus pressure and inflammation, and if you’re feeling stuffy, take a hot shower or steam your face over a sink full of hot water.
Know how to treat sinus inflammation. Talk to your doctor about the best medications to help you alleviate sinus inflammation.
Over-the-counter antihistamines, like Benadryl, Dimetapp, Zyrtec, Claritin, Clarinex, and Allegra may offer relief. Pay attention to the specific side effects of whichever medication you decide to try.
Decongestants can help too and are especially effective when used in combination with antihistamines.
Nasal steroids work well when used on a daily basis as treatment for seasonal and perennial allergies.
Allergy immunotherapy may be recommended for you if other treatments aren’t working or are causing side effects, or if you have symptoms regularly and prefer not to take daily medications. Talk to a board-certified allergist for more information about whether immunotherapy is right for you.
When you want help preparing your sinuses for spring or you need assistance with your allergies, look for an experienced, board-certified allergist. The physicians at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM are board-certified in allergy and immunology. They 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.
Each year, as the weather warms up and temperatures rise above 50 degrees, seasonal spring allergies hit. Why? Because that’s when plants begin to bloom, releasing their pollen into the air. The allergy season hits its peak between March and June, so it’s important to start preparing for it now.
What causes spring allergies? An allergic reaction happens when your immune system mistakes allergens for dangerous substances and produces antibodies to fight them. In the spring, tree pollen starts to appear in the air in the beginning of February, and it’s joined by grass pollen later in the season. These are two of the worst offenders for triggering spring allergies. When your body tries to fight allergens like pollen with antibodies, it produces histamine, and that’s what leads to allergy symptoms. Spring allergens typically produce respiratory reactions like sinus congestion, runny nose, post-nasal drip, sneezing, coughing, itchy or watery eyes and, sometimes shortness of breath.
You don’t have to wait until your spring allergies symptoms are making you miserable to take action. Preparing for allergy season ahead of time can help you get ahead of it and that will mean fewer allergy symptoms. If you’ve never seen an allergist, do it so you’ll know what your allergies are and how to treat them. Here are some ways to prepare for springtime allergies.
Get the jump on allergies by taking medicine before you have symptoms. About two weeks before you normally begin to experience allergies, start using over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays. An allergist can provide a treatment plan to help you select the right ones for you. This can help prevent inflammation and ease your symptoms. If your symptoms are relentless and disrupt your daily activities, you can also try immunotherapy (allergy shots). Allergy shots treat the underlying cause and provide a near total cure of your allergic disease. It takes a few months for patients to get relief from symptoms with immunotherapy, so it’s smart to begin it ahead of time. You do not have to be experiencing symptoms to see the allergist and start a personalized treatment plan for spring allergies.
See to your spring cleaning. Deep cleaning your home by dusting it from top to bottom, washing curtains, sweeping floors, and vacuuming rugs and furniture, can help remove dust and pollen from inside your house. When you’re cleaning or working in the yard, wear an allergy mask to reduce your allergen inhalation. When you finish up for the day, change your clothes and shower, including shampooing your hair, taking care not to carry pollen spores through your house on your clothes.
Keep an eye on the pollen. Watch the local pollen counts and stay inside during peak pollen hours in the midmorning and early evening on days that pollen count is high.
Don’t open your windows. It’s warm and breezy out there, but don’t let the outside air into your house. Keeping your house sealed up will help keep pollen out and give you a place to retreat from allergens. Think about this with your car, too, keeping your windows closed and your AC circulating.
Change your air filters. Most air filters need to be changed every one to three months, so take note of the manufacturer’s instructions and change yours as often as is recommended. Use other tools, too, like zippered pillowcases and mattress covers to reduce dust mites and pet dander.
Mind the mold. While tree and grass pollen are prominent spring allergens, mold can be a problem as well. Spring can be damp, and moisture makes a hospitable environment for mold. Keep your home’s humidity level below 50 percent and stay vigilant about signs of mold, cleaning it as soon as you see it.
If you are suffering from seasonal allergies and over-the-counter medicines aren’t working, an experienced, board-certified allergist can help you determine how to manage them. The physicians at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM are board-certified in allergy and immunology. They 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.