Top Tips for Keeping Allergies at Bay
By: Dominic Joseph Roca, MD PhD
Spring is in the air. The magnolia and dogwood blossoms, and all the dogs playing fetch, are surely a sight for sore eyes. Just as you set out for a Saturday afternoon hike, your sneezes and itchy, watery eyes set in. What’s to blame? Is it always pollen? If you guessed yes, think again. It’s important to know the not-so-usual culprits at play and know your own triggers so you can get to work on reducing your symptoms, according to experts.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, substances such as mold , dust mite and pet dander could very well be involved in your allergy discomfort. In fact, more than two thirds of people who are prone to springtime allergies actually show symptoms all year long. Interestingly, ten to 15 percent of households will have significant levels of pet dander despite not having a pet! Untreated allergies can lead to a greater risk of infections, asthma exacerbations, irritability and difficulty concentrating.
So how can you keep all your sniffles and sneezes under control? Here are some tips to follow:
- Keep watch. Access current pollen and mold counts in your local weather report.
- Shut ‘em. Typically, pollen counts are highest at midday and in the afternoon. So keep your windows and doors closed at home and in your car.
- Mask it. If you’re mowing the lawn or gardening, put on a N95 filter mask approved by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
- Freshen up. After being outside for a while, shower, wash your hair, and put on a change of clothes.
- Decongestants. This class of medications can cause rapid heart rate, insomnia and hypertension.
- Allergy medications. Second -generation antihistamines (such as Zyrtec, Allegra and Claritin) and nasal steroids are fairly safe and effective and can be tried as directed.
- See a health care provider. If symptoms persist or are particularly severe seek help from your primary care physician or an allergist
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