Spring is officially here, and the spring equinox is a welcome?reminder that warmer days are, in fact, ahead. But while sunnier skies hold?the?promise of?blooming flowers and greener grasses, increasingly steamy?global?temperatures?mean that allergy season is primed to kick in sooner. Fortunately, a little proactive planning can make a big difference when it comes to?sneezing, wheezing, and coughing. Here, two experts weigh in on the best pre-emptive moves for keeping those symptoms in check.
“Our immune system recognizes pollen as dangerous, releasing chemicals that cause inflammation,” explains New York City?allergist?and immunologist Mauli Desai, M.D.?“That’s where the itchy eyes and sneezing begins.” Desai recommends paying?attention to pollen counts (most are shown on weather apps)?before leaving the house?and limiting outdoor activity on?extremely breezy days.?Pollen counts tend to be highest at noon and decline slowly throughout the day, so if a run around the neighborhood is in order, the expert?suggests waiting until the late afternoon or evening.?And since pollen can easily get trapped in contact lenses, a pair of large?sunglasses may also help on especially high count days.
Take an Antihistamine??
Don’t wait until allergies strike to take action.?“It’s important to take an antihistamine first thing in the morning, before leaving the house,” says Desai.?If you're already aware that spring’s blooming?seriously affects your routine, pick?up a nasal spray, too, and use it?daily up to two weeks before things really start to bloom—typically the first week of April. It will help to lessen the symptoms and can also be used in conjunction with an over-the-counter medication, like Claritin or Zyrtec.
Turn Your Home Into a Safe Zone
“Pollen is really sticky,” says?Desai and therefore easily carried into our homes. To maintain a sneeze-free atmosphere, keep the windows shut. For those really suffering, the pro suggests changing out of clothes and washing hair immediately?after?arriving?home at night, as it will go a long way in whisking away allergens. Desai also urges pet owners to bathe cats or dogs often, since fur can track in unwanted pollen, as well.
Consider Alternative Therapies
While drugstore medications work for many, there are other natural solutions that may provide alternative relief. According to Elizabeth Alexandre, a New York City–based herbalist and acupuncturist, acupuncture is a tool that has met with success. “The needles remove obstruction in the nasal passages and can regulate the immune system,” she says,?meaning?they promote balance and help relieve inflammation throughout the body.?Alexandre recommends beginning six to eight weeks before the start of spring to get the full benefits, although the treatment is?helpful at any point during the season.
Evaluate Your Diet
Surprisingly, a daily diet can have a real impact on allergies. “Eat with the seasons,” says Alexandre. “Spring is a time when our diet should be the lightest and filled with fresh, sprouted foods.” She adds that avoiding “mucus-producing” foods, like dairy, extremely cold liquids, or processed ingredients, may also?decrease?overall congestion.