This time of year comes with blooming flowers, windy, warmer temperatures, and unfortunately seasonal allergies. Allergies are the result of your body and your immune system negatively reacting to a substance called an allergen. There are many different types of allergies affecting more than 50 million North Americans annually.
One of the most common forms of allergy is allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as seasonal allergies or hay fever. Seasonal allergies typically occur in the spring, summer, or fall and have a wide range of indoor and outdoor triggers.
Common allergens include the following:
- Trees such as birch, oak, cedar, walnut, and hickory
- Grasses such as timothy, bermuda, and kentucky blue
- Weeds such as ragweed, sagebrush, and pigweed
- Dust mites
- Mold spores
- Pet dander
It's hard to avoid all of these allergens, but we’ve got some tips to help this season!
- Stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
- Spring clean/ deep clean your house in advance.
- Avoid lawn mowing, weed pulling and other gardening activities. Wear a face mask if you must do outside chores.
- Remove clothes you've worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
- Don't hang laundry outside — pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
- Take extra caution when pollen counts are high! Close doors and windows at night if possible and avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.
Prep the indoor air
- If lucky enough to have air conditioning in your home, use it!
- Replace air filters seasonally and follow regular maintenance schedules.
- Use a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom.
- Clean floors often with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.
- Essential oils can be a great, natural way to help decrease the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Use oil combinations such as Chamomile, Lemon & Lavender or Chamomile, Geranium & Lemon and/or individual oils such as Eucalyptus, Clove oil and Peppermint in your diffuser at home.
Rinse your sinuses
Rinsing your nasal passages with saline solution (nasal irrigation) is a quick, natural, and inexpensive and effective way to relieve nasal congestion. Rinsing directly flushes out mucus and allergens from your nose.
Saline solutions can be purchased ready-made or as kits to add to water. If you use a kit or home-made saline solution, use bottled or boiled water to reduce the risk of infection. Be sure to rinse the irrigation device after each use with clean water and leave open to air-dry.
When home remedies aren't enough
For many people, avoiding allergens and taking non-prescription medications is enough to ease symptoms. But if your seasonal allergies are still bothersome, don't give up. A number of other treatments are available.
Your health care provider may recommend that you have skin tests or blood tests to find out exactly what allergens trigger your symptoms. Testing can help determine what steps you need to take to avoid your specific triggers and identify which treatments are likely to work best for you.
For some people, allergy shots (allergen immunotherapy) can be a good option. Also known as desensitization, this treatment involves regular injections containing tiny amounts of the substances that cause your allergies. Over time, these injections reduce the immune system reaction that causes symptoms. For some allergies, treatment can be given as tablets under the tongue.