Scott M. Schreiber, a Delaware chiropractor, knows what it’s like to deal with springtime allergies. His eyes get swollen and itchy. His nose runs and his throat feels sore. “On high pollen days, I can only be outside for a short period of time, which is upsetting when my kids want to play,” Schreiber says.
In many parts of the U.S., “springtime allergies” start as early as February and last until summer. Most people with allergies have year-round symptoms.
For lots of people, allergy treatment is reactive. You get stuffed up, your eyes water, and then you go to the medicine cabinet for relief. But many doctors say that we’ve got it the wrong way around. Instead, we should be taking the medicine before we have symptoms. Call it allergy pretreatment.
“We always tell people to start taking medicine before the allergy season begins,” says Jonathan A. Bernstein MD, an allergist and professor of clinical medicine at the University of Cincinnati. “People...
Each spring, trees release billions of tiny pollen grains into the air. When you breathe them into your nose and lungs, they can trigger an allergic reaction. Staying inside can help, especially on windy days and during the early morning hours, when pollen counts are highest.
When you do head outdoors, wear glasses or sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes. A filter mask can help when you mow the lawn or work in the garden. Different types are available, so ask your doctor to suggest one that will work best for you.
Once you head back inside, “Always take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothing,” says Andrew Kim, MD, an allergist in Fairfax, VA. Otherwise, you’ll bring pollen into your house.
For more severe allergies, Kim suggests a nasal spray. But don’t expect symptoms to vanish right away. “They may take a few days to work,” he says. Since they can have side effects like burning, dryness, or nosebleeds, use the lowest dose that controls your symptoms.
Your doctor may recommend allergy shots if other medicines can’t relieve your symptoms. They contain a tiny amount of the pollen and will help your body build up resistance to it. You’ll likely need to get one shot each month for 3 to 5 years.