If allergies are cutting into your quality of life, consider some ideas for minimizing your exposure to allergens this year. Different allergens, such as pollen, mold, animal dander, and dust, are common in our environment. Most of these allergens abound during spring and fall, but some of them are present in the environment year-round.
Though it’s impossible to escape the effects of allergens altogether, there are a few things that you can do to limit your contact with them.
- Rethink your exercise plan – Exercising outside can be invigorating, but as you draw in the fresh air, it may be jam-packed with airborne allergens such as pollen and mold spores. If your allergy symptoms flare during your outdoor workouts, it may be wise to take your exercises indoors to minimize contact with outdoors allergens. If you really love being outdoors, try changing locations to see if that helps. Perhaps walking a school track may be better than walking neighborhood streets lined with plants and trees. Avoid busy streets as vehicular fumes can also worsen your allergic reactions. Another option is to take a non-drowsy antihistamine before starting your outdoor exercises.
- Watch out for non-seasonal allergens – Pollens peak in spring and fall, but allergens such as animal dander and dust mites are present all year. If these allergens make you feel lousy, take steps to avoid them. If you are allergic to cats, do not visit the home of a cat-owning friend. Meet your friend elsewhere instead. If you react to dust, opt for hard floors with washable rugs instead of carpets, which are a favorite habitat of dust mites. Curtains and bed linens also harbor a sea of dust mites, so make sure to wash them frequently with hot water to kill the mites. Dust your furniture with a damp cloth, and use allergy-proof pillows and mattress.
- Choose your clothes carefully – Avoid wearing synthetic materials and stick to cotton products. Pollens are electrically charged and are attracted by the charge created when synthetic fibers rub against each other. Another advantage of cotton and other natural fibers is that they are able to breathe, helping them stay drier and repel moisture-loving mold spores.
- Other steps –If you are going to work in your garden, wear a pollen mask and take an antihistamine about 30 minutes before you head outdoors.Shower regularly to get rid of pollens that you may have picked up outside.
If your allergies persist in spite of your best efforts to steer clear of allergens in your environment, consider immunotherapy, the only treatment that has been shown to be effective in changing the underlying allergy—not just its symptoms. Immunotherapy is available through shots or through under-the-tongue (sublingual) allergy drops.