Sneezing, itchy or watery eyes, and a runny nose are troublesome symptoms of nasal allergies. But did you know that nasal allergies can also make it hard for you to concentrate?
If you’re one of the 35 million Americans who suffer from allergic rhinitis – hay fever or seasonal allergies caused by tree, grass, and other plant pollens – chances are you sometimes find it difficult to keep your mind on what you’re doing. Here are some tips to help you stay alert.
Change Your Allergy Medication
Over-the-counter allergy medications called antihistamines may ease symptoms of a runny nose and itchy eyes, but some may cause drowsiness in some people. A newer generation of antihistamines is available that's less likely to cause drowsiness.
Other treatments for nasal allergies are also available over the counter. These include nasal saline rinses, a nasal steroid spray, and nasal decongestants. If you don't find relief from allergy symptoms with over-the-counter products, schedule a visit with an allergist. An allergist can help determine exactly what you’re allergic to and how severe your allergy is. Treatment may include immunotherapy, known as allergy shots, and other medications, such as prescription nasal corticosteroids and leukotriene inhibitors to control inflammation and reduce symptoms, and antihistamines.
Nasal Allergies? Plan Your Day Around Pollen
If you have nasal allergies, you know it’s best to avoid allergy triggers. Still, it's difficult to avoid the blanket of pollen that seems to cover everything in spring. Pay attention to the pollen count on the news and try to stay indoors when the pollen count is high. The best time to go outside is early morning when pollen levels are lower or after a heavy rain.
These tips may also help:
- Try to stay inside on dry, windy days, when the air is more likely to have pollen and allergy symptoms are often at their worst.
- If you go outside, change clothes as soon as possible and take a shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
- Keep outside clothes in the laundry room and out of the bedroom or bathroom. If you have to work in the yard, wear a mask while you work.
Clean the House of Allergens
Dust mites and mold are other common allergens, so whether it’s spring or not, a good house cleaning can help reduce allergy symptoms:
- Dust and vacuum weekly with a damp or microfiber cloth and a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
- Wash bedding in hot water (130 degrees or higher) to kill dust mites, toss out feather pillows and down comforters, and enclose pillows and mattress in allergen-proof covers.
- Use HEPA air filters and furnace filters specially made to trap allergens.
- Use a mild bleach solution to remove mold in the bathroom, and toss any mat, shower curtain, or liner that shows mold.
- Use an exhaust fan in the bathroom. Consider a dehumidifier for the basement.
- Think twice about houseplants – the soil can harbor mold.
- Store books and papers in closed shelf cabinets.