Spring's buds and blooms are a sure sign that winter is over and, for many, that seasonal allergies are on their way.
Medicine may help keep your allergies in check, but you can minimize your need for these drugs by learning how to avoid allergy triggers.
Top Seasonal Allergy Triggers
Pollen: Pollen is the fine greenish-yellow dust coating your car. This is the powder that helps trees, grasses, and flowers reproduce. Pretty much from spring to fall, something is giving off pollen. Tree pollen is usually the spring culprit, while grasses get you in the summer and ragweed in the fall.
Mold: Outdoor mold spores float in the air just like pollen does, but they take a bit longer to reach their peak -- July in warmer states and fall in colder states.
Avoiding Spring Allergy Triggers: Outside
If you have severe pollen and mold allergies, you’re probably tempted to stay inside with the windows closed from April through November. Clearly, that won't do. Besides, whatever is floating around outside makes it inside your house, anyway.
So what can you do to feel better and enjoy the outdoors?
Track the pollen count. Several online sites provide up-to-date information on local pollen counts. Avoid going outdoors when the pollen count is very high.
- Hot, dry, and windy days are peak allergy days. Try to plan your trips for when it’s cooler and less windy. After a rain is a good time to go outside.
- Pollen counts are highest in the morning, so plan outdoor activities for later in the day.
- Get an allergy-free family member or friend to mow the lawn. If you must mow the lawn, use a mask and protective glasses. You can choose a simple disposable paper mask, or for tougher allergies, a ''respirator mask'' with a HEPA filter.
- Toss your clothes in the washer and take a shower after you come in from outdoor activities, especially when you’ve been working in the yard.
Going inside doesn't end the allergy cascade. There are plenty of triggers in your home in the spring. How can you stay ahead of them?
Avoiding Spring Allergy Triggers: Inside
Pets, kids, and even your shoes can bring pollen inside your house. And carpet and drapes can trap pollen. Try these tips to limit exposure:
- Keep your windows closed and run the air conditioning.
- Use a vacuum with double-bagging, or a HEPA filter. If cleaning stirs up your allergies, try wearing an allergy mask like the kind you might use outside.
- It sounds tempting, but don't hang sheets and clothes on the line to dry in the fresh spring air. You’ll be bringing all those outdoor allergens inside with you.
- Cut back on the carpeting and drapes. Consider tile and hardwood, and shutters and blinds instead.
- Take off your shoes right outside the door, before coming inside. Or at least wipe them well on an outdoor mat.
You can't avoid allergens altogether. But by taking a few steps, you may be able to welcome spring with a smile!