Coping With Seasonal Allergies

As winter turns into spring, people are beginning to feel that familiar tingle in their noses – allergy season has arrived! If you’re one of the many people who suffer from seasonal allergies, relax – it is possible to find relief from these maladies.

Basically, allergies result from immune responses to exogenous and endogenous antigens that produce inflammation and cause tissue damage. The clinical effects of allergic reactions vary according to the site of allergen exposure. Typical allergens include the protein in pollen, house dust mites, animal dander, foods, and chemicals like the antibiotic penicillin. Exposure to the allergen can occur through inhalation, ingestion, injection, or skin contact.

At this point, there’s no known cure and no proven way to completely eliminate the allergens that give you allergic reactions, but there are several things you can do to minimize their effects.

To avoid dust mite exposure, reduce the dust in your home by using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter or electrostatic precipitator, which filters tiny particles out of the air. You can also replace carpet with wood, vinyl, laminate or tile floor that will reduce the number of allergens trapped in your flooring. Dust mites are most prevalent in the bedroom, so you’ll need to wash all sheets and bedding weekly in hot water, remove blinds and use shades instead, and use down-filled feather pillows and blankets.

To minimize your exposure to outdoor pollens, check the daily pollen counts listed in your local newspaper to find out when the pollen level outside is particularly high, increasing the likelihood of triggering an attack. Don’t place your laundry outside to dry, as this will cause it to trap airborne pollen. Keep the windows of your house and car closed; if possible, use air conditioning when needed. Next, ask another friend or family member to do your work in the yard, especially during early morning or on windy, high pollen days. If you must work outside, wear a face mask designed to filter pollen that keeps it from reaching your nasal passages and causing an attack.

If you’re allergic to mold, avoid shady areas outdoors, damp basements, garbage pails, garden compost piles, old mattresses, greenhouses, upholstered furniture, grain fields, pillows made of rubber and old foam and bins – all of these locations can harbor mold and mildew. Anywhere in your home that humidity builds up can also be a mold risk. To allow the humidity to escape, open your window or use a fan after a steamy shower or bath.

Animal dander – typically from indoor dogs and cats – is another major cause of allergies. If you can’t bear the thought of finding a new home for Fido, try air purifier that will remove their dander from the air. Wear a face mask while doing household chores, and have someone else bathe your pet weekly and brush it outdoors several times a week. Wash your hands after touching or handling a pet to avoid spreading the dander. If you have a cat, have another member of your family clean the litter box and ensure that it’s stored away from the air vents in your home. Finally, keep pets out of your bedroom, so that you aren’t exposed to allergens while you’re sleeping.