Depending on where you live in the country and what you’re allergic to, you might be in the midst of peak allergy season at this very moment. Allergy season often starts at the end of February for people who are allergic to tree pollen and can continue on through November for those who are allergic to ragweed and molds. If the thought of sniffling and sneezing through the next few months doesn’t appeal to you, there are several things you can do to reduce your symptoms throughout allergy season.
Avoiding the things you are allergic to is often the first line of defense against allergies. For many people, that means staying indoors throughout the day, especially on days when the pollen count is particularly high.
If you aren’t sure what the pollen count is in your area, your local weather forecast will usually let you know. Days that are dry, sunny or windy usually have higher pollen counts than days that a cold and wet. Unfortunately, you’re more likely to want to go outdoors on those dry and sunny days.
If you can’t stay indoors all day, it’s best to avoid going out when the pollen counts are at their highest. This usually occurs during the morning hours.
Try a Barrier
Since locking yourself away indoors for several months likely isn’t a possibility (and is a great way to get cabin fever), another way to protect yourself this allergy season is to use barriers to keep the pollen from reaching your mucous membranes. Wear sunglasses that cover your entire eye area when you go outside to keep pollen from getting in your eyes. If you’re particularly concerned about breathing in pollen, you can try wearing a filter mask over your mouth and nose.
Change Your Clothing
Whenever you go outside, pollen can get on your clothes and shoes, especially on days when the pollen count is high. To keep yourself from dragging pollen into your home or carrying it around with you, get in the habit of changing your clothes (and putting them in the wash) every time you come in from outdoors. You might want to designate an outfit or two as “home wear,” so that you always have something to put on that’s pollen-free.
It’s also a good idea to take a shower once you get indoors. Showering will rinse any pollen or other allergens off of your hair and skin, so that you can avoid triggering your symptoms.
Protect Your Home
Although grass, trees and weeds are all outdoors, they can easily come inside if you’re not careful. If you suffer from allergies, it’s a good idea to keep the windows at home closed. Pollen and other allergens are small enough to travel through screens and screen doors. Run your air conditioner to keep things cool and comfortable indoors.
It’s also a good idea to step up your cleaning game during allergy season. Vacuum regularly (daily, if needed) and try to use a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter. You might also find that you need to change the filter often.
If you usually hang your clothing outdoors to dry, it’s a good idea to switch to a dryer during prime allergy season or to hang it up indoors. You don’t want allergens to coat your freshly laundered clothing.
It’s also a good idea to get in the habit of taking off your shoes when you are indoors. That way, you can avoid tracking allergens throughout the rest of your home.
Consider Allergy Treatment
If preventative and avoidance measures aren’t enough for you to get relief from allergies this season, treating them might be your best option. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, an over-the-counter antihistamine or allergy medication might be sufficient. In some cases, a prescription strength allergy medicine might be needed.
Another option, which can provide longer-lasting relief, is immunotherapy, or allergy shots. During immunotherapy, you typically receive one injection each week that contains the substance you’re allergic to. Overtime, your body builds up enough antibodies to keep symptoms from occuring. For many patients, immunotherapy provides more effective relief from allergy symptoms than medications.
ABOUT DR. RUBINSTEIN
Dr. Rubinstein has nearly sixteen years of experience in helping patients with sinus problems and allergies in the Hudson Valley. A board certified facial plastic surgeon and board certified otolaryngologist, he has extensive knowledge of laser procedures, facial plastic surgery, and nasal and sinus treatments, which allows him to improve aesthetics as well as functionality of the nose and facial features. Dr. Rubinstein received his board certifications through the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. If you’re interested in learning more about allergy treatment options and how you can get relief this allergy season, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubinstein at the Hudson Valley Sinus Center by calling 845-562-6673.