As the temperatures begin to warm up and people start spending more time in the great outdoors, many are forced to deal with the problem that comes with the change in season. According to national statistics, more than 50 million people suffer from environmental allergies. That breaks down to around one out of every three adults, and the numbers are even higher for children.
If you do suffer from the condition, doctors say don’t wait to get checked out to help control your symptoms early. Once buds start opening on trees you are already at risk.
“The cost from allergies in missed school and work alone is billions of dollars in lost productivity,” says Michigan Primary Care Partners Internal Medicine physician, Rashmi Juneja, MD. “If left untreated, allergies can lead to sleep, sinus problems and chronic skin conditions.”
Dr. Juneja says the first step she takes with her patients is to help them pinpoint the cause of the reaction, so her patients can remove the allergen from their environment. If the problem persists, Dr. Juneja says antihistamines are a good option to keep symptoms at bay, but there are other options.
“Nasal washes are a good remedy for those who want natural treatment options,” says Dr. Juneja. “Just make sure you follow proper water preparation guidelines.”
The next step for some patients is to seek immunotherapy with the help of an allergist. Each allergy shot is filled with a tiny amount of substance to stimulate your immune system without triggering a full-blown allergic reaction. As a result, over time, patients are able to build up a tolerance for the allergen. Dr. Juneja warns those who suffer severe reactions, even those going through immunotherapy, should always be prepared. “Take steps to protect yourself now,” says Dr. Juneja. “Having an EpiPen handy could save you in the event of an emergency.”
Keeping tabs on the weather can also go a long way in protecting you from an allergy outbreak. On windy days choose to stay indoors when pollen is more likely to circulate. If you’re susceptible to allergy related asthma, beware of thunderstorms. Right before it rains pollen is forced to ground level making it easier to inhale the particles.
Here are some other tips to try:
Close your windows and use an air conditioner to filter the air
Wipe down surfaces with a slightly damp cloth
After being outside, remove your shoes and launder any pollen covered clothing
Vacuum carpets, couches, and other soft surfaces a few times a week to keep dust levels low