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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL. (February 25, 2020) – It’s spring, which means you can count on certain annual rituals: flowers are beginning to bloom and temperatures will start to rise. The sun is shining a bit more, and you’re coping with sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes and a terrible runny nose.
“Spring allergies can be tricky to treat because not everyone is allergic to the same things, even though symptoms may look a lot alike,” says allergist J. Allen Meadows, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “There are some really effective treatments out there, but unfortunately no magic bullets. Knowing what you are allergic to is the first step in being prepared to ward off spring allergy symptoms.”
Below are five tips from ACAAI to help you stay laser focused on avoiding the allergens which make you miserable.
- First step. See an allergist – Along with taking your history and conducting an exam, allergists can conduct tests to identify what you’re allergic to. An allergist is trained in how to identify your allergens and treat your symptoms to help you take control so you can live the life you want. Once they identify your allergens, they can suggest the most appropriate medications to treat your allergies and asthma.
- Start medications before symptoms begin – Whatever the source of your allergies, start addressing your symptoms two to three weeks before they usually kick in. By beginning to take your allergy medications early, you’ll get in front of your symptoms, and they will be easier to control. The “launch” of the spring allergy season depends on where you live. That’s a reason to see your allergist to pinpoint when your symptoms might begin. Due to climate change, most of the southeast sees spring in January now. Talk to your allergist if over the counter medicines aren’t helping.
- Ban allergens from your house! – If you are allergic to pollen, take measures to keep it out of your home – and hair and eyes and clothes and nose. Make sure all windows (house and car) are closed during the spring allergy season as breezes and open windows can bring in unwanted pollen that can make your allergies flare. Take off shoes when you enter your home and consider immediately putting your clothes in the wash to get rid of pollen. Shower at night before bed so your hair is free from pollen and isn’t transferred to your bedding.
- Geography matters –Though some areas of the country tend to get hit harder than others, tree pollens are bad in all geographic regions. That said, studies have shown that hay fever is more prevalent in children living in the southeastern and southern states. Your response to pollen can depend on which pollens you’re allergic to. If you’re someone who is allergic to tree pollen or grass, you may experience an increase in symptoms no matter where you live.
- Ready, aim, fire – One of the best ways to target your allergens is through immunotherapy. Allergists are trained to identify your allergies and provide a personal treatment plan. Immunotherapy – allergy shots or tablets – is designed to target your exact triggers and can greatly reduce the severity of your symptoms. Allergy shots and tablets can also prevent the development of asthma in some children with seasonal allergies. Talk to your allergist about which form of immunotherapy is right for you.
If you’ve cleared out allergens as best you can and are still suffering symptoms, it’s time to see a board-certified allergist. Allergists are specially trained to help you take control of your allergies and asthma, so you can live the life you want. Find an allergist in your area with the ACAAI allergist locator.