Spring is in the air, which unfortunately for many of us means sneezing, itchy eyes, congestion and other symptoms associated with seasonal allergic reactions, aka, hay fever. According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, roughly 7.8 percent of adults suffer from hay fever.
Outside of clinical treatments (which may take years to complete), one can’t really “cure” springtime allergies, but there are actions we can take in our home to curb and even prevent attacks. We’ve compiled a list of doctor-recommended tips to make springtime more bearable for the millions of us who struggle.
The main factor that triggers allergic reactions is pollen. Our immune system mistakes pollen as a foreign threat and releases antibodies that attack the allergens, which then releases histamines, causing the familiar runny nose, itchy eyes and throat among other possible symptoms. And one needn’t be near blossoming flowers to react. “Pollen particles can travel up to 50 miles,” says Dr. Tania Elliott, allergist and chief medical officer at EHE. “So, you’re not in the clear in an urban area, especially with these crazy high pollen counts we’re seeing and the extreme weather changes caused by global warming.”
Elliott adds that these “crazy high” pollen count days, increasing in number, don’t just occur on warm, sunny days; in fact, rainy days can be worse. “A thunderstorm dredges up all the pollen, which disperses and bursts by the thunder and lightning, so it’s a fallacy that [nice] spring days are more likely to trigger a reaction.”
Additionally, pollen allergies may be made worse by diesel exhaust, because, as Dr. Efren Rael, allergist and immunologist at Stanford Children’s Health points out, pollen can bind to these and other air pollutants, creating a kind of supercharged allergen.