By Dr. Kinberg, Allergy and Asthma Specialist at Boone County Health Center
Allergy season is here and with it the sneezing, congestion and itchy eyes that send many people searching for relief. But the truth is, one of the best ways to decrease the symptoms of seasonal allergies is to avoid the pollen which causes them in the first place.
Pollen can come from trees, grass, and weeds, each present in the air at different times of the year. It can cling to clothes, hair, and pets then find its way into your system causing symptoms.
So here are 12 simple tips to avoid pollen and decrease allergy symptoms:
- Take your shoes off. Reduce your pollen exposure indoors by encouraging family members to leave their shoes at the door.
- Change your clothes. Clothing and hair are pollen’s two favorite ways to hitch a ride. After playing or working outdoors, change your clothes before tracking pollen through your home, especially your bedroom.
- Prioritize your bedroom. You spend several hours each day in your bedroom. Keep this environment as pollen-free as possible. Don’t store dirty clothes in your bedroom.
- Wash your hair. Before bed, wash your hair to remove pollen that may have settled there during the day. This will prevent pollen from rubbing off onto your pillow and bothering your allergies all night.
- Bathe pets. Your pet’s fur can be a pollen carrier. During high pollen counts, bathe pets more frequently and don’t allow them in your bedroom.
- Keep windows closed. Operate your air conditioning or heating system year round. It can act as a filter. Keep doors and windows closed to lock out pollen.
- Switch filters. Make sure to switch out filters in your furnace and air conditioner as often (or more often if it helps) as the manufacturer recommends.
- Recirculate air. In the car, avoid continuously pulling more pollen into your vehicle by setting the air conditioner to recirculate air.
- Stay indoors. Check the daily pollen count and stay inside as much as possible when pollen counts are high. Typically, hot, dry, windy days and the morning hours between 5 and 10 are when outdoor pollen counts are highest.
- Don’t hang clothes or linens out to dry. They can collect pollen and mold.
- Get help. Ask someone else to do jobs such as dusting, vacuuming, raking leaves, and mowing that can increase exposure to your known allergens. If this isn’t an option, wear a mask while doing these tasks.
- Avoid irritants. Cigarette smoke, house dust and harsh cleaning chemicals can add to already irritated allergies making symptoms worse. When possible, avoid these and consider using baking soda and vinegar for cleaning.
These tips can be a good start. I also recommend over-the-counter medicine such as Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra as well as a nasal spray such as Flonase or Nasacort to help minimize allergy symptoms. (Check with your Primary Care Provider before starting a new medication.)
If you’re still struggling with symptoms, the next step is to get a referral from your Primary Care Provider at Boone County Health Center. They can refer you on to see me at the Allergy and Asthma Clinic offered monthly in Albion.
I will evaluate you, determine your specific allergies and make personalized recommendations to improve your quality of life. You may even be a candidate for allergy immunotherapy, in which I create a vaccine just for you, based on your exact allergies.
To get a referral from your Primary Care Provider to see me, call 402-395-5013.