Spring Has Sprung, Don’t Let Your Allergies Spring Up

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.