If you greet the end of winter with a little bit of dread, it’s a safe bet that you have hay fever, also known as seasonal allergies. If this is you, the arrival of warm weather also is the onset of misery because of the sneezing, wheezing, coughing and itchy eyes that the arrival of spring – and pollen – brings.
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Here are five strategies you can use to breathe easier.
Help from a humidifier
If you have allergies, making the air at home more humid can go a long way toward easing your symptoms. Plug in and turn on a humidifier to relieve hay fever symptoms, asthma and allergy flare-ups. Set the humidity level between 30 percent and 50 percent and use filtered water, if possible, to avoid the minerals and micro-organisms unfiltered water might contain.
Best time to treat symptoms
The time to start thinking about treating your seasonal allergies is early spring. Once the trees start budding and flowering, allergies also go into full bloom. A harsh winter, like the one just experienced by most of the United States, can cause more severe allergy symptoms, too. That’s because the amount of moisture from the snow and cold affects pollination and plant growth. So start your allergy medications now.
You might have asthma, not allergies
Whenever the pollen count goes up, so does the number of new asthma cases. That’s because allergies are a common trigger for asthma. The point at which asthma emerges varies from person to person, and symptoms are not the same for everyone. But if you develop a cough, shortness of breath, wheezing or chest tightness, pain or pressure, that last longer than seven to 10 days, it’s a good idea to call your doctor.
If you have allergies, include them into your travel preparations. Research your destination to determine what allergens are prevalent during the time of year you’re traveling. If you’re driving to your destination, run the air conditioner in the car for 10 minutes before you leave, and depart in the early morning or late evening, when you’ll likely encounter less traffic and air pollution. Once you arrive at your hotel, use the air conditioning. With the air conditioning on and the windows closed, you can reduce indoor pollen exposure by more than 90 percent.
Don’t let your allergies keep you from a good night’s sleep, especially if you are allergic to dust mites, mold, pollen or pet dander. Pay special attention to keeping your sleeping space clean and free from allergens, and get rid of materials that attract dust. Use zippered covers for your pillow, mattress and box springs. Use blinds instead of fabric curtains and hardwood floors instead of carpet. Also, get rid of your ceiling fan, which flings dust around a room if it’s not kept clean.