Sneezing? Check. Sniffling? Check. Red, watery eyes? Check. It must be spring allergy season. The good news is there are steps you can take to reduce the misery that accompanies it.
With a yearly price tag of over $18 billion and the dubious distinction of placing sixth on the list of chronic illnesses in the United States, allergies are nothing to sneeze at. While some people are looking forward to enjoying the spring sunshine and warm breezes, approximately 8% of the population is bracing for their immune system’s overreaction to pollen.
At ENT New York, Dr. Vandana Kumra and her staff provide personalized, patient-centric care for both adults and children, addressing a wide range of ear, nose, throat, head, and neck concerns — including allergy issues. Read on to learn more about allergies and how you can ward off those spring flare-ups.
Viewed as a foreign invader, pollen can wreak havoc on the body as it goes into attack mode. Symptoms can include sneezing along with red, watery, or swollen eyes. Excess mucus production resulting in either a runny or stuffy nose may also occur. Itchiness in the nose and eyes and even the ears and mouth is also common. In addition, people with allergic asthma may experience asthma symptoms during times of high pollen counts.
Methods for allergy relief
While it's impossible to avoid pollen completely, there are steps you can take that can help reduce its impact.
Limit pollen exposure
Peak pollen times are typically between 5 and 10 a.m. and at dusk, so try to stay indoors during these hours as well as on warm, windy days. If being outside is a must, wear sunglasses to keep eye exposure to pollen at a minimum. A filter mask can also help when mowing the lawn, weeding, and doing other gardening.
It’s also important to take steps to keep pollen out of the house. Keep windows closed, and remove shoes before going inside. After spending time outdoors, take a shower, wash your hair, and put on fresh clothes to prevent pollen from traveling indoors. Similarly, don’t allow pets on the bed or in the bedroom if possible, and don’t hang laundry outside to dry.
Employing high-efficiency filters (HEPA) when using forced air heating or air conditioning in the house, and replacing the filters regularly, can reduce pollen counts. Using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter also helps.
Try over-the-counter relief
Over-the-counter decongestants can provide relief from nasal stuffiness, while antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, a runny nose, itching, and watery eyes. Some medications combine both.
Rinsing your nasal passages with a saline solution made from distilled, sterile, or previously boiled and cooled water using a neti pot or squeeze bottle can help rid your nose of excess mucus and pollen.
Alternative treatments such as butterbur, quercetin, and others may provide relief — but always check with a doctor before taking any supplements. Acupuncture is another possibility.
See a doctor
If none of these methods has brought adequate relief, it may be time to see a doctor. During a consultation appointment, a detailed health history is taken and notes made about the type of allergy symptoms and what brings them on.
Your doctor may prescribe medication to help relieve symptoms or may order additional allergy testing. In some cases, allergy shots known as immunotherapy can be administered. These help by desensitizing you over a period of time to the allergen causing your flare-ups.
If you're bracing for another spring of sneezing and sniffling every time you go outside, take steps now to prevent those allergies from getting the better of you. If you’ve found no relief from home remedies, call or click to book an appointment with ENT New York today.