How to Reduce Pollen Exposure
Experts agree the first step for allergy sufferers is to avoid the allergens -- easier said than done, especially if you are not sure exactly what's triggering your symptoms.
Staying indoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when pollen counts are generally higher, can help. So can using a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter on your furnace and air conditioner, Bajowala says.
Scheduling your errands and your workout for later in the day on high-pollen days also help, Bajowala tells WebMD.
Other tips for avoiding exposure:
- If you have a pet that goes outside, wipe his fur off before he comes back in. Pets can bring pollen indoors on their fur.
- Take off your shoes before you come inside, so you don’t track in pollen.
- Dry your clothes in a dryer; don’t hang them outside.
Treating Spring Allergies
If avoiding allergens isn't enough to keep symptoms at bay, you can try over-the-counter antihistamines to treat symptoms, Becker and Bajowala say.
"It's very reasonable to try an over-the-counter antihistamine," Bajowala says. When exposed to allergens, an allergic person’s body releases histamines, which attach to the body’s cells, resulting in allergic symptoms. Antihistamines stop allergy symptoms such as itching of the nose and throat and sneezing by blocking the action of histamines.
If you have itchy eyes, over-the-counter eye drops may help, she says.
Over-the-counter decongestants may help with nasal stuffiness from allergies. These medications constrict vessels in the nasal passages and reduce swelling. Options include oral and nasal spray decongestants.
Because decongestants may raise blood pressure, you should ask your doctor before taking if you have heart disease or high blood pressure. Also, ask your doctor before taking if you have thyroid disease, an enlarged prostate gland, or diabetes.
Although you can take over-the-counter oral decongestants for up to a week if necessary, you should not use nasal decongestant sprays for more than three days because they may lead to increased nasal congestion with longer use.
Read the label for more information about side effects, and be sure to follow the dosing directions for over-the-counter medications.
Another option is cromolyn (Nasalcrom), she says, but it needs to be taken three or four times a day. This nasal spray reduces the release of histamines.
If the over-the-counter medications don't work, consider seeing an allergist, Becker says. A doctor’s advice may help you if allergies give you trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating at work or school, or recurrent allergy problems. An allergist can prescribe other medications as well.