Springtime is in bloom, bringing the promise of fresh flowers, bright sunshine, and warmer weather. But if you’re one of the 50 million Americans who suffer from allergies, the season also means sinus congestion, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes.
What Causes Spring Allergies?
Allergens are generally harmless substances that your immune system mistakenly identifies as threats to the body. An allergic response is triggered when you come into contact with airborne matter, such as pollen and animal dander. Your body then produces excess immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE) to fight off the allergen and mast cells release the chemical histamine, which is what causes the inflammation in your eyes, nose, and sinuses.
Tips for Treating Allergy symptoms
The best way to deal with allergy season is to prepare for it. Read on for tips from Dr. Adam Williams Allergy & Asthma Specialist at Summit Health, for how to manage your spring allergies before they get the best of you.
- Know your allergy triggers
Visit a specialist for a blood or skin test. They’ll pinpoint your condition and can develop a personalized treatment plan for managing your symptoms.
- Know your season
Each pollinating plant has a specific time of year that it releases its pollen. Finding out exactly which pollen(s) you are allergic to can help you prepare. “Tree pollen tends to peak in the spring, grasses in the summer, and weeds during the fall months,” Dr. Williams says.
- Stock your medicine cabinet
Over-the-counter remedies including anti-inflammatory nasal sprays, oral antihistamines, decongestants, and allergy eye drops can help relieve your short-term symptoms. Prescription-strength options are also available from your doctor if needed.
- Keep indoor air clean
Dr. Williams advises keeping windows closed, particularly those in the bedroom, during allergy season. In addition, consider investing in a vacuum and an air conditioner/purifier equipped with HEPA filters to trap and clear allergens for healthier breathing indoors.
Allergies and the COVID-19 pandemic
Preventive measures for coronavirus and seasonal allergies go hand in hand. “Keep in mind that COVID-19 and seasonal allergies share many symptoms, but there are key differences between the two,” Dr. Williams explains. “Fever and loss of taste and smell can be signs of COVID-19 infection. If in doubt, further evaluation, quarantine, and testing are recommended.”
Many of the hygiene practices that help protect you from COVID-19 are especially important when dealing with allergies:
- Cough and sneeze away from others into a tissue, handkerchief, or your elbow, even when you’re wearing a mask. Be sure to wash your hands immediately afterward.
- Have a backup mask handy. When you have sneezed heavily, you’ll be more comfortable and hygienic in a fresh face covering.
- Your mask could be carrying pollen and other irritants, so wash it daily and store it properly in a plastic or paper bag.
Summit Health Allergy & Asthma Specialist Dr. Adam Williams can confirm if you have allergies, find your triggers, and come up with a treatment plan that is suitable to you and your lifestyle.