Does spring have you feeling miserable? As early as February, the air can fill with pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds, causing symptoms such as a runny or congested nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. Spring can also trigger respiratory effects including coughing, wheezing, and asthma.
An allergy is the reaction of the immune system to things that the body thinks are harmful, even if they really are not. There is nothing inherently bad about a grass pollen, for example. The trouble lies in the way the immune system perceives it. With allergies, the immune system gets confused and thinks that pollens are actually germs or bacteria. It then gathers all of its resources to fight off the pollen granules.In defense, the body releases histamine which can lead to the inflammation that underlies many allergy symptoms.
Though spring will be spring, with its explosion of pollens, there are a number of things you can do to weather it gracefully. Consider the following ideas:
- Check the pollen count in your area – The National Allergy Bureau map reports the level of pollen and mold in different parts of the country. You can monitor the pollen and mold levels in your area before you decide to go outdoors. By signing up with the NAB website, you will receive personalized updates on a daily basis.
- Vacuum and dust – Dust causes allergies, but you can attack the dust bunnies and cobwebs by regularly dusting and running the vacuum cleaner in your house. Start with the floor and move to the curtains, upholstered furniture, and pillows. Wipe down the electric fan blades, too.
- Replace air-conditioning filters – Keep your windows closed when the pollen count is especially high. Run your air-conditioning unit, but make sure that you have clean filters. Install HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters as an added precaution.
- Exercise indoors – On days when the pollen count is high, workout inside to protect yourself against allergens. Otherwise, amidst your huffing and puffing, you’ll be breathing in a steady stream of pollens.
- Boost your immune system – Keeping your immune system strong can improve your health. You can bolster your immune system by consuming healthy whole foods and getting plenty of sleep.
- Roll up the car windows – Though the fresh air may feel great on your face and in your hair, keep your windows rolled up, relying on the AC instead.
To survive the spring season, stay one step ahead of the allergens. Avoid them at all costs, and if you still have symptoms, talk to your doctor about desensitization therapy. Desensitization can teach your immune system how to ignore allergens in the environment rather than reacting to them. It is available through allergy shots or through under-the-tongue allergy drops (sublingual immunotherapy).