Tips for springtime allergies to help you stay healthy. Includes 7 things you can do to make allergies symptoms less and feel better quicker. Learn the difference between allergies and a cold.
As someone with allergies and asthma, Spring has always been a challenging time of the year. After spending all winter inside the house, I want nothing more then to run outside, plant in my garden, or even just take the dog for a walk and not have to wear 47 layers of clothing to keep me warm! But this season has some things to deal with like fluctuating pollen counts, cleaning product fumes, bugs, and even the sun.
Learn from my mistakes! Over the years, I’ve come up with 7 things I always do every spring to make sure I don’t suffer from springtime allergies any more than I must.
Here are seven springtime allergy tips to help you enjoy the spring season.
Is it Allergies or a Cold?
When you feel sick, it isn’t always easy to tell the difference between allergies and a cold. Here are some common symptoms to help you distinguish between the two:
Allergies: itchy and watery eyes, your symptoms stay the same day after day and you don’t feel better, your symptoms don’t go away after a week, you have brain fog, feel tired with no body aches, mild coughing, asthma attacks, hives, itchy red skin, symptoms seem worse after being outside
Cold: you have a cough, fever, headache, and body aches, your symptoms stay the same if you go outside or not, your symptoms change every few days, your symptoms only last 7-10 days, your mucus becomes a different color and changes in viscosity
If you have any doubts, make sure you call your doctor and get checked out. Especially if you have a fever of over 101 degrees, your symptoms have lasted longer than 10 days, if you have trouble breathing, or your have swelling of your throat. This can be a serious allergic reaction or a secondary infection that requires medication.
But what if it is just allergies?
What Causes Springtime Allergies?
Allergies in the spring are usually caused by pollen. This is when plants are blooming and germinating, they produce pollen, tiny grains that fertilize other plants of the same species. Pollen from weeds, trees, grasses, and flowers all can cause your allergies to go crazy.
Inside seems like it would be safe, but there are just as many allergies that can trigger allergy or asthma attacks. Things like dust, dirt, pollen, and even cleaning products can cause springtime allergies.
Living with allergies can seem like a constant battle but here are some ways to stay ahead of the curve.
Pay Attention to Springtime Pollen Count
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is follow your local pollen count. A pollen count is a number and rating system to tell you how much pollen is in the air on any given day. More pollen means more problems.
You can think of pollen like a fog rolling in. How thick is the fog? How far can you see? Pollen grains are like the fog and the higher the pollen count, the thicker the pollen fog, the more symptoms you’ll have if allergic to pollen.
Pollen can begin in January in some parts of the world, so get to know your local weather and pollen counts.
You can keep track of the pollen counts in your area by downloading an app like The Weather Channel or Weather Bug (both free) or by checking weather.com and following their Allergy Tracker.
Why is this important? Because knowing your local pollen count will help you determine what days to stay inside and what days are okay to go out. On bad pollen days, do things inside so you don’t subject yourself to an overload of pollen if you can avoid it.
Keep your doors and windows closed to limit the amount of pollen entering your home as much as possible. If you want to open them up, make sure to do so on a day with a low pollen count or just after it rains!
What to Wear for Springtime Allergies
It is the nature of pollen (no pun intended) to be sticky. Pollen floats through the air on the wind, landing on whatever it can and then sticks. Your hair, your clothes, your skin, you get the point.
If you are outside, you must think defensively for pollen.
Wear hats and tie your hair up if it is long. You can also use fewer hair products that will make your hair extra sticky (think things like hair spray or gel). Try wrapping your hair in a scarf if you are quickly moving in and out of a store and don’t feel like wearing a hat that day. I always feel extra glamourous when I do this; something about big sunglasses and a hair scarf make me feel like Audrey Hepburn!
Sunglasses are a great way to quickly keep the pollen from blowing in your eyes.
If you can, wearing long sleeve shirts and pants will also keep the pollen from landing directly onto your skin, mitigating any reactions you might have.
Shower at Night
Before you get into bed, one of the best things you can do is shower at night to remove all the pollen from your hair and skin. This way you aren’t breathing in the pollen all night long as it transfers from your hair to your pillow. I know for some people, showering at night is a strange concept – maybe you like waking up with a cold shower – but your sinuses will thank you for removing the pollen before sleeping for 8 hours in bed.
If you have extra itchy skin, try taking an oatmeal bath. This is super soothing to the skin and provides enough moisture so that you don’t even need lotion after bathing. If you are allergic to gluten, don’t use a commercial oatmeal bath powder. You can make your own by blitzing gluten free oats in your blender or food processor until it resembles flour. Or, you can just throw some oats in a cheesecloth bag and place it in the bath.
You’ll also want to wash your clothes even after wearing them just once outside. Don’t go to bed wearing the same clothes you wore during the day.
Finally, make sure you wash your linens more frequently when you find yourself in peak allergy season.
Use HEPA to Clean the Air
You want to ensure that the air inside the home is as clean as it can be, so that it is a haven for springtime allergies. One of the best ways to keep the air clean is to use a HEPA filter. HEPA is a High Efficiency Particle Air Filter that removes things like smoke, pollen, dust, dirt, mildew, pet dander, and dust mites from the air.
To make sure they work efficiently, try to place them in areas of the house where you spend most of your time. The bedroom is perhaps the most important place to keep them as you spend hours every night sleeping in there! Keep them running during the day so they filter out the ick and leave you with cleaner air.
If you are getting a new HEPA filter, make sure that you get one that does NOT have a UV or Ion light filter. These have been studied and current research shows they produce ozone, which is a harmful air pollution – the very thing you want to remove!
Start Springtime Allergy Medicine Early
When is the best time to start taking medicine for springtime allergies? As strange as it sounds, in the winter! It really depends on where you live in the world, but you want to make sure that you are taking your medicines before the allergies get bad in your area. This could be as early as Christmas, depending on your location!
Over the counter medications are super helpful and often work just fine for most people. Things like loradatine, cetirizine, and fexofenadine are all long-acting antihistamines that can help with common springtime allergy symptoms like itchy eyes and runny nose. For nasal congestion specifically one of the best ways to treat it is with a nasal spray containing glucocorticoid. These can be ones from over-the-counter or prescription strength if you find yourself still suffering.
Make sure to chat with your doctor to make sure that you won’t have any medication interactions that could harm you before you switch up any medications you are taking!
Spring Cleaning Products and Allergies
While spring cleaning your home, you want to make sure that you aren’t making things worse by using products that can trigger allergies.
One of the easiest things to do is switch from a cleaning product that is colored with dyes and move to one that has no artificial dyes added. Food dyes and chemical dyes are one of those sneaky allergies with more people being allergic to them then they realize!
Next, make sure that you are using products that are rated safe by the Allergy and Asthma network. DIY products are often the safest things to use to keep the air safe and clean. Here is a helpful guide to cleaning the home and safe DIY cleaning recipes as put together by the Allergy and Asthma Network.
Finally, if you are super allergic to dust (like me!) make sure to wear a mask while dusting. This is a simple thing you can do but will help so much! Even tying a bandana around your face can make a difference.
Insect Springtime Allergies
What is the thing I dislike the most about spring? Bugs.
This is because I have severe allergies to things like bees, wasps, and even mosquitoes.
To keep as many bugs out of the yard as possible, do things like place wasp traps out just as spring is starting in your area to try and remove the problem before it even starts. Plant things that bees and wasps don’t generally care for, basically anything that doesn’t flower. Finally, make sure to attract bugs that are helpful but shouldn’t cause issues, like lady bugs and butterflies. This will help the wildlife in your area while keeping you safe.