What is making me sneeze and wheeze this spring?

    Thursday, 06 April 2017 15:28  Blog

We all look forward to the springtime and want to open the windows and be outdoors, but for people with allergies, spring is a mixed blessing, and can mean feeling miserable. However, there are steps you can take to better enjoy this time of year.

What plants pollinate in the spring?

Some of the trees start pollinating in early March, so even if the snow is still on the ground, there can be tree pollen in the air.  By mid to late April, when the weather is dry and the wind is blowing, tree pollen counts can be quite high.  Trees continue to pollinate through June. The grass generally starts pollinating in mid to late May, but unlike the trees, the grass can pollinate even in April if nighttime temperatures are above 50 degrees.  For people who are allergic to both trees and grass, the worst time is usually from mid May through mid to late June because both tree and grass pollen counts are quite high.

Do you know that you are not allergic to any plant that has a pretty flower?

Plants that have a pretty, scented flower need to attract bees and birds for pollination. Plants without a scent or nice looking flower rely on the wind for pollination, and these are the plants that cause allergy problem 

What can I do to feel better?

  • Avoid heavy exercise between 5 AM and 10 AM because the pollen counts tend to be the highest during these hours
  • Don’t smell the “fresh” air: keep the windows closed and the air conditioner on at home and in the car.Even on cool nights, just run the fan on the AC unit, so that the air is filtered through the air conditioner unit, keeping the pollen outdoors where it belongs.
  • Make sure your air conditioner is clean, mold free and don’t forget to change the filters.
  • If you have a dog, wash Fido frequently because the dog’s coat will act like a magnet for pollen which is then brought into the house.It’s also a good idea to keep the dog out of your bedroom.
  • Take a shower before going to bed to get the pollen out of your hair.
  • Wear a mask over your mouth and nose when doing yard work such as raking leaves and mowing the lawn.You can buy an N95 respirator mask (sounds fancy and expensive, but it isn’t!) at most hardware stores.

 

What medicines can I use?

  • Antihistamines:there are various over the counter antihistamines. They will work better if taken daily.
  • Steroid nasal sprays (such as Flonase, and Nasonex to name just a few), should be used daily during your “season”.
  • Medications to avoid: decongestant nasal sprays for more than 2-3 days, and regular usage of oral decongestants if you have high blood pressure and other medical problems.

 

What if these things don’t help?

Then it’s time to see the allergist to find out exactly what you are allergic to and to make a plan to treat your allergy symptoms. 

Where can I find the pollen counts?

Go to www.pollen.com and type in your zip code, or watch the evening local news. Using the information you get from the pollen count, you can predict today’s count.  Pollen counts are higher when the weather is cool, dry and the wind is blowing.  Counts are lower when it rains.

We all look forward to the springtime and want to open the windows and be outdoors, but for people with allergies, spring is a mixed blessing, and can mean feeling miserable. However, there are steps you can take to better enjoy this time of year.