This process affects millions of Americans and is commonly referred to as “having allergies.”
While is there no way to avoid irritants like pollen entirely, there are simple solutions to mitigate allergic reactions. As winter evolves into spring, sometimes it just makes sense to stay indoors.
Allergy sufferers should pay attention to the pollen index, use vacuums designed to better pick up common irritants, and close their windows when the pollen count is high.
Physicians with the NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Division of Allergy and Immunology, led by Dr. Stanley Fine, offer the following tips to help those potentially suffering from allergies:
• Check the pollen index. Pollen counts are regularly reported by weather and news agencies. Get in the helpful habit of checking these pollen counts daily. When the pollen count is high, consider limiting your outdoor exposure.
• Use natural remedies with caution. Herbal or natural remedies may work, but the word “natural” on a label does not necessarily mean an over-the-counter treatment is helpful. In fact, it may prove to be harmful.
• Select the right vacuum. A vacuum with HEPA-filtration technology can help remove irritants from the home. This may help reduce the chance of breathing in pollen or other irritants.
• Opt for the air conditioner. Fresh air in the home after the winter season seems nice, but for those with allergies, it might not be practical. If the pollen count is high, close your windows and consider turning on the air conditioning.
• Keep extra clean. During spring season, be extra diligent about personal hygiene, washing your clothes and cleaning up the house. Even with the windows closed, our clothes, hair and body will bring irritants into the home.
• Use anti-histamines two hours prior to sustained outdoor activity. If pollen counts are high, and you cannot avoid staying outdoors, use anti-histamines two hours prior to outdoor activities to reduce allergy symptoms.
• Know when pollen counts are the highest. Pollen counts tend to be the highest during midday hours. Try to schedule usual outdoor activities and exercise in the morning or late afternoon.
• Make an appointment with your doctor. Do not assume that pollen is the trigger causing an allergy, there multiple other causes for allergy.
• Consider nasal rinses. Rinsing the nasal passages with a saline solution can reduce nasal congestion and drainage throughout the day.
• Change the filters in your house regularly. Air filters are often hard to reach, but can make a big difference in air quality. Make sure you’re changing out your air and furnace filters as recommended to reduce irritants in your home.
Dr. Joseph T. Cooke is chairman of the Department of Medicine at New York-Presbyterian Queens.