by Dr. Natalia Vernon, Allergist and Immunologist
Millions of Americans suffer from “hay fever” or seasonal allergies every year. When you have seasonal allergies, your immune system treats a harmless substance such as pollen as an invader or “allergen”. As a result, your body makes antibodies- large proteins that recognize allergens and release histamine- which cause your allergy symptoms. The most common symptoms include sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, post nasal drip (excess mucus that drips down the back of your throat) and itchiness in the nose and eyes.
5 tips to help you this Spring:
- Check the pollen count. Visit the National Allergy Bureau website (www.aaaai.org/global/nab-pollen-counts.aspx) to check for daily pollen levels in your city. If possible stay indoors with the windows closed when levels are high. When driving keep the windows rolled up to reduce pollen exposure.
- Shower regularly. At the end of the day you may have pollen residue on your body and in your hair so it’s important to rinse the pollen off before going to bed. Don’t forget to shampoo!
- Change filters regularly. Furnace and air conditioner filters should be changed every 3 months. Filters help to trap pollen and small particles in dust.
- Flush it out. If a stuffy nose bothers you, a neti pot found at your local drugstore may provide some relief. Neti pots are a saline rinse for the nose that helps to flush away debris and allergens. Always remember to use the salt solution and water sources (distilled, sterile or previously boiled) that are recommended in the product instructions.
- See an allergist. If you haven’t already, now is a perfect time to do so since spring season is approaching. An allergist can perform a skin or blood test for allergies and develop the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options may include medications and/or allergy shots.
Although seasonal allergies are not life threatening, they can be uncomfortable and bothersome. These tips may help you feel better so you can enjoy the beauty of spring again!
Natalia Vernon, M.D. is a board certified allergist and immunologist at Northern Valley Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center, Bergenfield, New Jersey.
Information in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical consultation or serve as a substitute for medical advice provided by a physician or qualified medical professional.