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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, ILL. (February 29, 2016) – It’s deja vu all over again as you turn on the evening news and hear, “It’s the worst pollen season ever!” You think, “Again?” But what you really want to know is how the pollen season will affect your allergy symptoms, and what you can do to ease your suffering.
“Unfortunately, it’s true that in the past few years, the amount of pollen in the air during spring allergy season seems to have gotten worse,” says allergist Bryan Martin, DO, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “One of the reasons is the effects of climate change. Increased carbon dioxide from longer growing seasons as a result of warmer weather has a positive effect on pollen production. That means a negative effect on those suffering from pollen allergens.”
Must another “worst pollen season ever” leave you helpless in the face of increased allergy triggers? No. Following are some ACAAI tips on coping with pollen and other allergens that arrive with warmer weather.
Don’t self-medicate – You may think “I got this covered” when it comes to treating symptoms, but a recent study shows most allergy sufferers find prescription medication more effective than over-the-counter cures. Yet most people don’t seek the help of an allergist who is trained to identify exactly what they are allergic to, and prescribe the most appropriate medication to treat their symptoms.
Get ahead of symptoms - One thing many allergy sufferers may not be aware of is that if you start taking your allergy medications before the worst symptoms hit, your suffering will be greatly alleviated. Although people think spring starts in April or May, spring allergy symptoms begin earlier, so start taking your prescription allergy medications two to three weeks before your symptoms normally appear.
Most effective – and natural – treatment for allergies – Many people in search of “natural” allergy treatments don’t realize that immunotherapy – allergy shots – are actually the most natural treatment of all. Immunotherapy involves giving gradually increasing doses of the substances you’re allergic to. The incremental increases of the allergens cause the immune system to become less sensitive, which reduces allergy symptoms in the future. Immunotherapy is also effective in treating allergic asthma. Allergy shots help relieve the allergic reactions that trigger asthma episodes and decrease the need for asthma medications.
Easy is good – While you’re battling those terrible allergens, keep in mind that you can affect change at home.
- Monitor pollen and mold counts. Weather reports often include this information.
- Keep windows and doors shut at home and in your car during allergy season.
- Stay inside midday and during the afternoon, when pollen counts are highest.
- Take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes after you’ve been working or playing outdoors.
- Wear a NIOSH-rated 95 filter mask when mowing the lawn or doing other chores outdoors, and take appropriate medication beforehand.
If you think you might be one of the more than 50 million Americans that suffer from allergy and asthma Find an Allergist, track your symptoms at MyNasalAllergyJournal.org and watch this video to learn more about Spring Sneezing Season.