How to Manage Seasonal Allergies
Allergies are more than just a nagging nuisance. According to a US national survey of allergy sufferers, allergies negatively affect a whole range of daily activities. Allergies not only affect the sufferer physically, but also emotionally. A full 70 percent of those surveyed said that they wanted to be left alone when in the throes of seasonal allergies!
The most common strategy for dealing with allergens and manage seasonal allergies is avoidance. In the vast majority of cases, this will be the first strategy suggested by most physicians. This leaves the seasonal allergy sufferer with a conundrum: how do you avoid an allergen in the air?
You may not be able to completely avoid your seasonal allergens, but you can significantly reduce your exposure with a wide range of non-drug management strategies. Don’t underestimate the helpfulness of these approaches either: many allergy sufferers have seen significant improvement in their symptoms by religiously using as many of these techniques as reasonably possible, which allowed them to use less antihistamine or other pharmaceutical solution.
Browse this list and see which of these you can incorporate into your life:
- Move your shower to the end of the day! Be sure to wash your hair. When you wash your hair at the end of the day, you remove pollen and other allergens from it and prevent those allergens from being transferred to your pillow.
- If you are going outdoors to do gardening or other yard work, consider a protective mask over your nose and mouth. This can help to reduce the amount of pollen that you breathe in.
- Keep your home’s windows closed! This will help to keep pollen out. However, you do have to ensure that the air inside is clean to begin with; make sure that you are changing the air filters on your home’s heating or air conditioning systems frequently.
- Speaking of air filters, a frequently forgotten air filter is the one that cleans the air before it’s pumped into your car. This filter will help to keep both pollen and dust out of your car’s interior, but only if it is changed regularly. Again, keeping the car windows closed and using air conditioning will help to reduce your pollen exposure while driving.
- Indoor air purification systems can help to keep the air indoors as free of all allergens and airborne irritants as possible. If you can’t afford to have air purifiers in every room, consider using one in the bedroom. Those 8 hours of sleep can be much more restful if you keep the air as clean as possible. Clean bedroom air will also allow your body to recover completely from whatever pollen exposure you’ve had during the day.
- Consider a hamper for “dirty” clothes as close to the front door as possible! Keep fresh, clean “house clothes” in the front closet. Take those clothes and wash the pollen out of them during your next laundry day. Make sure you use the warmest water approved for the material of your clothes. Hot water is best.
- While not as environmentally friendly as your clothesline, you really should use your dryer for drying clothing if you have seasonal allergies. Your lovely clean damp laundry on the line is the equivalent of a pollen magnet. Using a dryer will keep you from bringing that pollen indoors on your clothes.
- Keeping pollen outdoors involves more than clothes! Take off outdoor shoes outside the front door, and wear slippers in the house. You’d be surprised how much pollen can get into your home through clothing and shoes.
- Another potential pollen carrier is your beloved pet. Pets that spend time outdoors can be rinsed off after high pollen days before they come into the house. Be sure that Fido isn’t sleeping in your bed either.
- Are you a runner? If you are a fan of outdoor exercise, consider going first thing in the morning or late in the day in order to ensure that pollen counts are at their daily lowest. Also, keep in mind that you will encounter more pollen on a hot, windy, sunny day compared to a cool, cloudy or rainy day with minimal breeze.
- Another simple tip is to make sure that your home is frequently cleaned. All ‘soft’ surfaces (like rugs and furniture) should be vacuum cleaned with a quality machine that makes use of at least HEPA filtering of exhaust. Central vac systems that are vented outside to the garage are even better, because all dust and debris is moved outside immediately. Hard floor surfaces like countertops, hardwood or tile of any kind should be vacuumed and mopped regularly. Whatever cleaning method you use in your home for any surface, be sure it doesn’t just move dust around or put it back in the air.
Don’t forget your car while you are thinking about cleaning! Since it’s very difficult to keep pollen completely out of a vehicle, you might even want to have your vehicle professionally cleaned more than once a season.