Spring has sprung and all those other euphemisms! Yet, try as I might I have been unable to fully embrace and love this season… What? Yes, you heard me… Spring is my nemesis. I, Miss Winter Pollyanna, have seriously contemplated moving to the tundra to avoid Spring. My other viable option: Become or befriend Elsa, so she can give us a real winter. (no allergies for me, counteract the SUPER DROUGHT… win-win, right?) The reason?
You know Allergies, right? It’s when your face feels as though it’s been filled with cement and you begin to contemplate alternative draining methods (It’s not really a bad idea to drill an extra hole in my face…), or your nose runs so constantly and uncontrollably you wonder just how strange you would look if you stuffed tissue up your nose and left it… There is so much IgE-mediated inflammation you need a nap immediately upon waking. While awake everything takes on a fuzzy glow and you just. can’t. focus. Your eyes might be red and watery, they might also itch. If they itch you may wish you could scratch them, out. You may itch everywhere else as well. Like the tickle in your throat from the post-nasal drip! Post-nasal drip, that makes you cough, or snore attractively throughout the night. If that isn’t enough you might randomly find yourself covered in hives, you know, red and splotchy, in case your paleness didn’t match your favorite spring dress… Oh allergies…
Did you know? Allergic Rhinitis is one of the most common issues affecting adults. 1 in 6 Americans are affected! It is the 5th most common chronic illness in the U.S.
I’ve been loving my allergies for years, so here are my top 5 SAVE YOURSELF strategies:
1. FIND YOUR TRIGGERS! This is of the utmost importance. For allergies minimizing exposure is the best way to decrease symptoms. The same goes for kiddos with allergies. The question is how? Go rub up against every plant in the neighborhood until you locate the winner?
- One option is allergy testing, also known as “scratch testing.” Mine, unfortunately, lit up like a christmas tree… it’s in fact quicker to tell you what I’m NOT allergic to (feathers and dogs).
- Another option: Track your symptoms and use an allergy app to see what allergens are about. I have tried Pollen.com‘s allergy alert app, it gives the predominant pollens: today, Mulberry/Ash/Elm and an allergy forecast: today is medium-high with a rating of 9.2… WebMD also has an allergy app that I’m going to download now. Knowing the pollen is insane can also guide your plans for daily treatment and activity.
2. DON’T ACCEPT ALLERGY INDUCED MISERY. Talk to your healthcare provider to devise a medication strategy that works for you. During your peak season you may find you need a daily OTC anti-histamine, or something like Singulair, plus symptom management including eye drops, nasal spray, a decongestant, or you might want to try allergy shots… but converting your bag into a pharmacy isn’t the only way to find relief.
3. BLOW IT OUT. Of your nose, I mean. Keeping the congestion at bay is key. Use a humidifier at night, get steamy and blow your nose when you shower, use a neti pot or other nasal rinse, and DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS (hydration thins mucous!).
4. CREATE AN ALLERGY FREE BEDROOM. Preferably the whole house, but start with the bedroom. Wash your sheets weekly in hot water (this eliminates allergens). Resist the temptation to open the windows and bathe your room in pollen-y goodness, use the air conditioner and (dusted) fans. Use allergen reducing filters (HEPA) throughout your house and change them frequently. Ban your pet from your bedroom, or wipe him down when he comes inside to reduce the allergens he’s sharing. Other options include removing carpeting (collects allergens), banning shoes in the house, and keeping jackets and other outerwear in one “contaminated” area.
5. SHOWER AT NIGHT/CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES. Washing off all the allergens you collected on your skin throughout the day before you climb into bed will help you get a better night’s sleep by decreasing eye irritation and congestion. It can also help to change into clean clothes and wipe off your face and hands after you spend time outside. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and if it’s windy use a scarf to block your mouth and nose from the pollen.
None of this is rocket science, and the option of barricading yourself in a sterile room or moving to Antarctica will always be there, but maybe some of these things will make this time of year a little less heinous?
What do you do to combat allergies?