Dealing with Springtime Allergies
Dealing with Springtime Allergies
My sister jokes that she is “allergic to the spring season” because once the weather begins to change; she gets overwhelmed with all the signs of terrible allergies – constant sneezing, runny nose, headaches, watery eyes, chapped lips and overall discomfort. I know many people suffer in this way during the transition into warmer weather and it can be a very real hindrance to outdoor enjoyment! The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America characterizes an allergy as an “overreaction of the human immune system to a foreign protein substance (“allergen”) that is eaten, breathed into the lungs, injected or touched.” (http://aafa.org) They also write that many people who suffer from allergies react to more than one substance.
While some may feel (like my sister) that it is just a bodily reaction to elements flying around in the season, there are many different contributors to allergies. Cat dander is the most common pet allergy; and the most common indoor/outdoor allergens include: pollen from trees, plants, and grass, mold spores, dust mites and cockroach allergens, as well as animal dander. Food allergies are usually brought on by milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, fish and shellfish and insect allergies are often caused by bee/wasp stings or ant bites. Unfortunately not all allergies can be “cured”; and when the spring wind blows up dander and pollen some may still have an allergic reaction.
However, there are many things that we can do for allergy sufferers that will help remove the allergen or build up a healthy immune system to combat an attack. I have provided some healthy tips that may help bring some relief to common allergies. You may also wish to browse the articles in our Healthy Home category for more tips related to this topic such as disinfectants, dust mites and many others.
What To Look For
Symptoms of allergies include:
- itchy, red, and/or watery eyes
- runny nose
- burning or scratching sensations in the throat
- itching skin
- difficulty breathing
- asthma attacks
- Besides avoiding potential allergens, nutrition is essential for the building of the immune system to reduce allergic reactions.
- Maintain a healthy diet with foods containing antioxidants such as beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, citrus bioflavonoids, etc.
- See your local health-care provider to find out more specifically what substances you react to.
For Outdoor Allergies:
- If you are allergic to insect stings/bites avoid wearing bright colors and strong perfumes which often attracts them.
- For pollen allergies – avoid outdoor activity early in the morning (after dawn) and on warm, breezy days (this is when much of the pollen is released).
- Avoid contact with trees such as ash, beech, birch, cedar, cottonwood, elm, hickory, maple and oak which pollinate in the spring.
- Avoid contact with grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, timothy, Bermuda, redtop, orchard, rye and sweet vernal which pollinate through the spring into the summer.
- www.pollen.com is a great resource for those who would like to know “pollen forecasts” in their areas.
For Animal/Pet Allergies
- Try to keep animals outdoors as much as possible.
- Clean and vacuum the house regularly and thoroughly.
- If you want your pet indoors, keep him/her out of the bedroom (or wherever you spend most of your time).
- Use air-purifiers in the home.
- For more on pet allergies, see SmartLivingNews article in Healthy Animals: Pets-Allergies; Allergies & Your Pets.
For Indoor Allergies:
- Clean your home thoroughly and often.
- Cover mattresses and pillows with zippered, dust-proof covers.
- Wash bedding in hot water weekly.
- Create/increase circulation of outdoor air in the home, especially to reduce humidity.
- Wash upholstered furniture and carpeting on a regular basis.
- Reduce clutter and do not leave food or garbage uncovered for an extended length of time.
- Pay attention to and reduce moisture around the kitchen and bathroom especially.
- Dehumidifiers and air purifiers are a great help for problems of “indoor pollution.”
- Invest in a few house plants.