Spring is here, which means spring allergies have also arrived. Here’s how to stop them before they start.
Sure, spring is beautiful with trees and flowers in full bloom, but if you suffer from allergies to trees, grass pollens and ragweed, you know those green leaves and flowers trigger one of the most miserable times of the year for you.
“Allergies have been shown to affect patients’ quality of life, usually through increased fatigue, irritability and sometimes increased anxiety or depression,” said Elizabeth Ference, MD, assistant professor of clinical otolaryngology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and an otolaryngologist at Keck Medicine of USC.
But, through following a few key pointers, you can limit the negative effect of allergies. Here’s how to stop spring allergies (also called allergic rhinitis or hay fever) in their tracks:
1. Start taking allergy meds early
One of the most important steps you can take if you know you’re allergic to pollen, is to start taking an over-the-counter antihistamine or using a nasal spray before your symptoms hit. That’s because allergies are easier to prevent than treat. In Southern California, spring allergy season typically starts in February with tree pollens, including oak and walnut trees, and lasts through June when grass pollens hit their peak.
2. Move your workout indoors
Yes, the beautiful weather combined with longer days makes you want to get outdoors, but for allergy sufferers it may not be worth it. Instead of a morning run, take a yoga or spin class. If you really don’t want to give up your daily jog, wait until the afternoon or early evening when pollen counts tend to be lower.
3. Turn on the A.C.
Keeping your windows closed will prevent pollen and other outdoor allergens from getting into your home. (Keep the windows up in your car, too.) If you are very sensitive, run a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air filter in your home to keep the air freer of allergens.
4. Keep your house clean
Pollen loves to stick to upholstered fabric and carpets, so it’s essential you vacuum and dust regularly to keep pollen and other allergens to a minimum.
5. Shower at night
On days you’ve been outdoors, it’s a smart idea to shower and shampoo your hair at night to wash off any pollen on your body. Be sure to wash your clothes too.
6. Monitor daily pollen counts
On days with a high pollen count, it’s especially important for you to follow all the above steps. Tune into the morning weather or sign up for an allergy alert app like the one from pollen.com for daily notifications.
If you try all the following and are still experiencing symptoms, ask your doctor if allergy shots (allergen immunotherapy) might be right for you.
Learn more about the USC Asthma, Allergy and Clinical Immunology Center at Keck Medicine of USC. If you are in the Los Angeles area and are looking for exceptional care from some of the top physicians in the world, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment.
By Anne Fritz