The sneezing, the runny nose, the red eyes, the nasal congestion…allergy season is in full effect and, with these symptoms, the pursuit for relief begins.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, allergies affect more than 50 million people in the United States. While many find relief in over-the-counter medication — antihistamines, decongestants and nasal sprays — others struggle to find a treatment option that works.
When treating a patient, my goal is to first determine what’s causing the allergy symptoms. Spring allergies are almost always triggered by an increase in pollen levels. While it’s impossible to remain indoors and completely avoid exposure to pollen, there are many things we can do to help minimize the symptoms.
- Try to stay indoors whenever the pollen count is high. Pollen counts usually peak in the mornings and on dry or windy days.
- Keep allergens out of your home by keeping the doors and windows closed as much as possible. An air purifier can also be very helpful.
- Keep your home as clean as possible. Pay special attention to vents, bookshelves, ceiling fans and other places where pollen can collect.
- Shower and change your clothes after going outside. This will remove any pollen particles that you may have collected and avoid them from being spread indoors.
- Avoid hanging laundry outside or on clothesline to dry. Pollen can easily collect on garments left outdoors.
- Avoid gardening or cutting the lawn.
- If you have rugs or carpets, vacuum at least twice a week. If possible, consider replacing them with hardwood or tile flooring.
- Use air conditioning in your house and car. Make sure you check the filters often.
The good news about spring allergy symptoms is that they’ll eventually disappear. However, if symptoms persist, talk to your doctor. He or she will help you find additional treatment options for your seasonal allergies.
Joseph Dizon, MD is chief of the Department of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at the Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center.