Spring Allergies: Triggers, Treatment and OTC Remedies
There are so many things to enjoy about springtime, but for people with allergies, the season can trigger irritating symptoms, too. Seasonal allergies, also called allergic rhinitis or hay fever, may cause a runny nose, congestion, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes and other symptoms.
Spring allergies can flare up in February and last until the early summer in Louisiana and many areas of the United States. Outdoor molds grow quickly in heat and high humidity and release their spores. Trees, grasses, and weeds release pollen into the air to fertilize other plants.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the following climate factors also can influence the severity of symptoms:
- Pollen levels usually peak in the morning hours.
- Rain washes pollen away, but pollen counts can soar after rainfall.
- Airborne allergens are grounded on a day without wind.
- Pollen counts increase on a warm and windy day.
- Allergens are nearly everywhere, so moving to another area with a different climate to avoid allergies will most likely not work.
Reduce Exposure to Allergy Triggers
In addition to nature’s allergy triggers, insect bites and stings during the spring and summer can cause allergy symptoms and allergic reactions. Chlorine in indoor and outdoor swimming pools and smoke from campfires also are factors that can cause flare ups. The following tips can help reduce exposure to allergy triggers:
- Check the local news often for pollen forecasts and current pollen levels.
- If a forecast includes high pollen counts, take allergy medications before symptoms start.
- Stay indoors on dry, windy days.
- Wear a pollen mask when doing outside chores such as lawn mowing, weed pulling and other gardening chores.
- Remove clothes worn outdoors and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
- Do not hang laundry outside because pollen can cling to sheets and towels.
- Keep doors and windows closed at night or at times when pollen counts are high.
- Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.
- Use air conditioning at home and in a vehicle. For homes with forced heating or air conditioning, use high-efficiency filters and follow regular maintenance schedules.
- Use a dehumidifier at home, use a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom and clean floors with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.
Spring Allergy Treatment
An allergist can help plan strategies to prevent allergy triggers. Depending on the symptoms, the allergist may recommend one or more medications to control them. Seasonal allergies linked to pollen also may be treated with allergy shots (immunotherapy). Properly rinsing the nasal passages with saline solution is an effective and inexpensive method to relieve nasal congestion too.
Carmichael’s Pharmacies can fill prescriptions for allergy medications. We also have a selection of some of the most widely recommended over the counter medications such as oral antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays and combination medications (antihistamine with a decongestant). Others, including some nose drops, require a prescription.