For many, a runny nose, itchy eyes and other seasonal allergy symptoms are telltale signs that spring has arrived. An estimated 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from nasal allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. If you are one of the millions affected by pollen, ragweed and other springtime allergens, the medical experts at The Glasser Clinic have some tips to help you deal with seasonal allergies.
"Over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays can be effective in preventing and treating seasonal allergy symptoms," says Dr. Ray Rowland, M.D, Family Medicine. "In addition, there are some simple steps people can take to limit their exposure to the allergens in the first place."
Most seasonal allergy symptoms are caused by a sensitivity to grass, trees, weeds and other types of pollen floating through the air. While it is nearly impossible to avoid these irritants entirely, here are a few strategies to help minimize your exposure and, hopefully, your symptoms:
- Stay indoors when pollen counts are high. Just like the weather, pollen counts vary day-to-day. Typically, they are higher in the morning and lower in the evening. Check your local pollen forecast and plan outdoor activities, especially running or other exercise, when counts are lowest.
- Wear protective accessories. Wearing a scarf of bandana over your face while you're outside can help protect you from breathing in irritants. Sunglasses can also help protect your eyes from irritation.
- Wash off after spending time outside. It's already difficult to avoid pollen when you're outdoors - bringing it inside your home is the last thing you want. Take a shower as soon as possible after coming in from outside to rinse any residual pollen off your body and out of your hair.
- Keep your closet pollen-free. It's a good idea to keep any clothing you wore outside (that could have picked up pollen) separated from the rest of your clothes until you can wash them. Doing this will help keep you from spreading outdoor allergens throughout your home.
If you've tried the strategies outlined above and haven't found relief from your symptoms, Dr. Rowland says it might be wise to consider immunotherapy - commonly known as allergy shots. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, allergy shots have been shown to help reduce symptoms in about 85 percent of people with allergic rhinitis. "No matter what course of action you take in dealing with your seasonal allergy symptoms, the key is to be proactive," says Dr. Rowland. "Don't settle for being miserable - you have options."
If you are looking for a family practice physician, Dr. Ray Rowland, MD is accepting new patients. Please call (270) 901-3454 to schedule an appointment.