Breezin’ Through Sneezin’ Season
When plants bloom each spring, allergy attacks are close behind. As new plants grow and dormant ones emerge from their winter slumber, they produce pollen (spores that let plants reproduce). The warm, rainy season from February through early summer also brings mold. Add blustery winds that cause pollen to fly through the air and you have the potential for an avalanche of allergic reactions.
What are Seasonal Allergies?
Pollen and mold are the most common allergens. Allergens are substances that cause your body’s immune system to overreact and fight back, much as it would when fighting a virus. When exposed to allergens, allergy sufferers will often sneeze, itch and develop a runny nose and watery eyes. Around 50 million Americans suffer from nasal allergies every year. Most mild allergic reactions—especially reactions to pollen and mold—aren’t dangerous. But they can be annoying at best and debilitating at worst.
How to Protect Yourself Against Seasonal Allergies
Here are some tips to help you get through allergy season with less irritation:
- Check the forecast. Many weather forecasts will give a local pollen count; check before going outside and prepare accordingly.
- Use medication. Over-the-counter antihistamines can help guard against or relieve allergy symptoms; be sure to use the non-drowsy varieties if venturing outside.
- Limit your time outdoors. If the pollen count is high, it may be difficult to avoid allergies, though you can take steps to avoid allergens if you do need to step outside. Skip gardening, moving the lawn or other activities that put you into close contact with grass, flowers and other plants or wear a nose and mouth covering and safety goggles for full protection.
- Keep clean. Remove pollen and other allergens from your clothes, body and home as much as possible. Take showers and wash your hands regularly, clean your clothes after going outside and wear hats, gloves and other protective gear. You can also use an air purifier to filter out foreign particles that can cause allergies.
If you find that allergies ruin your spring no matter what, talk with your doctor about getting tested for different allergies and about receiving shots to control any allergic reactions.
Want More Tips on Dealing with Allergies?
Visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America for more information about allergy prevention and treatment.
To find out how Local 94 covers allergy treatment, go to the Hospital and Medical Benefits page.