How to prepare for allergy season
Spring in the Inland Northwest means sunny days, blossoming trees, and colorful flower buds- but for many, it can also mean seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies often begin in February or March and last through early summer, though a variety of factors including precipitation levels, mild winter temperatures, and climate can extend the allergy season well into the fall. Dr. Villarreal at MultiCare Rockwood Clinic frequently helps patients manage their seasonal allergies, as well as educates them about how to reduce allergen exposure- it’s not as hard as you may think!
Seasonal allergies are often a result of pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds. These plants release their pollen into the air to fertilize other plants but they often find their way into our nasal passageways, which send our bodies’ defenses into a haywire. Our bodies’ immune systems see the pollen as a danger, thus releasing antibodies to attack the pollen; this leads to chemicals called histamines being released into our blood. Histamines trigger the common allergy symptoms like runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing and other uncomfortable reactions. If you find yourself constantly reaching for the tissues, there’s a reason: Dr. Villarreal says that “allergens in the air may worsen symptoms by mobilizing inflammatory cells and mediators (cytokines) into different mucosal surfaces (e.g inner nose, eye conjunctiva).” These may lead to excess nose discharge and frequent eye tearing.
If you find yourself sniffling, sneezing, and itching your way through spring and summer, you may dread all of the great outdoor activities in our region. Luckily, there are many easy ways to reduce your exposure to allergy triggers including:
Keep your outdoor activities to a minimum on windy days, which can stir up pollen into the air. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, since rain clears pollen from the air.
Avoid mowing your lawn, pulling weeds, and other gardening tasks if possible. This could be a great opportunity to teach your teenager how to operate the lawn mower, solicit help from a friendly neighbor, or seek out a local landscape company to perform their lawn care services for you during allergy season.
After any activity outside, change your clothing, as pollen can stick to fibrous fabric and cloth. Additionally, taking a shower after being outside can help remove any pollen collection from your hair and skin.
Closing doors and windows at night can help reduce the amount of pollen coming into your home.
Make sure to watch the local news or check online sources for the daily pollen levels and forecasts. On days when the pollen counts are high, consider staying indoors and limiting exposure to outside air.
Avoid hanging laundry outside to dry and elect to machine dry items during the spring and summer months, as pollen can collect in the clean laundry, especially on breezy days.
If you have carpet, consider frequent vacuuming, as poth perennial and seasonal allergens may adhere to your carpeted surfaces.
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