Spring is in the air. Literally. From weeds to spores to grass and tree pollens, the warm weather is almost here, driving airborne allergen levels through the roof. That means your allergy symptoms -- the sniffling, sneezing, and itchy eyes -- are in overdrive and apt to stay that way for months.
What can you do? WebMD asked some of the country's leading allergy experts to weigh in with answers to your top questions about spring allergies. Here are suggestions for helping you find some much-needed...
The problem: Flowers aren't likely to be the worst allergens here, although it may be the first thing you think of. Pollen from brightly colored flowers is carried by insects from plant to plant -- not by the wind. So there's less airborne pollen from these flowers.
Instead, pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds are more likely to trigger your allergies.
Prevent by: Check pollen counts before going; if it's really high, consider rescheduling. Go at a time of day that's more allergy-friendly. Plants typically release pollen shortly after sunrise, but pollen travels best on midday breezes. So, airborne pollen is often highest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Time your visit for late afternoon.
If you typically take an antihistamine, take it before heading out. If you are on prescription allergy medicines, take them as directed but before you go. Take along the meds, including an over-the-counter saline nasal spray.
Once there: Keep the medicine handy. You can use the saline nose spray several times a day.
Challenge #2: Fresh-Air Weddings
The problem: These events usually coincide with high pollen season. That's typically spring and summer although some outdoor wedding dates could extend into the fall.
Prevent by: Use your medicine -- antihistamines, nasal sprays if you have them – before you’re outside. Take along an over-the-counter saline nose spray.
If you're the bride or groom, check the typical pollen count for your area before setting the date. You can also minimize exposure to allergens by having the ceremony outside and moving the reception indoors, for instance.
Go ahead and splurge on the bouquets. Flowers rarely cause the problem. It's more the pollens from trees and grasses.
Once there: If symptoms flare despite the preventive action, slip away and use the nasal saline spray. Shake pollen off your clothes if possible.
Challenge #3: Sporting Events
The problem: The biggest problem allergen will depend partly on the season. At an evening football game in the fall, for instance, you probably will be exposed to a high level of weed pollen and mold spores from dying grass and decaying leaves.
Prevent by: Again, use over-the-counter or prescription medicines before your event.
Once there: If allergies kick up, try the saline nose spray. If that doesn't work, avoidance is best.
Challenge #4: Car Racetrack
The problem: Auto racing draws legions of fans, but once at the track, car exhaust can be a problem for people with allergies. Exhaust is not an allergen, but it can irritate and be a big bother for people with allergies.