Spring can be glorious: The scent of a freshly mowed lawn. The beauty of bursting tree buds. The fragrance of colorful flowers. Except when it’s marred by the itchy, watery eyes and relentless sneezing that come with seasonal allergies. UR Medicine Allergist Dr. Kirsi Jarvinen-Seppo offers advice for coping with allergy symptoms through spring and summer.
- Cool it. When it’s hot outside, use an air conditioner. You’ll want to keep windows and doors shut as much as possible, to limit the amount of pollen entering your home and car.
- Wait it out. Avoid outdoor activities or exercise early in the day. Instead, engage in these activities in the afternoon or evening, since tree pollen is heaviest in the morning and tends to dissipate as the day goes on. When you do go out, wearing a cap and sunglasses may help alleviate eye symptoms.
- Wash it away. Change clothes when you go inside. And consider showering and washing your hair before bedtime, even if it’s just with water. This helps rid your hair and scalp of accumulated pollen that could otherwise end up on your pillow, where you can inhale it. You’ll also want to wash your clothing frequently, and don’t go to bed in the same clothes you wore during the day.
- Treat it. Over-the-counter antihistamines can be very helpful. Loratadine, cetirizine and fexofenadine are long-acting antihistamines that can help alleviate itchy eyes and a runny nose. But for nasal congestion, the single most effective treatment is an over-the counter or prescription nasal glucocorticoid spray. Ask your doctor if you think you might benefit from this kind of medication.
- Identify it. Consult an allergist who can help you pin down specific triggers and manage your symptoms. In some cases, allergy shots might be the best option.
Talk to your primary care doctor if you think you might benefit from an evaluation by an allergy specialist. It’s really important that you communicate your symptoms and concerns to all of your caregivers regularly, so they can best care for you as a team.
Here’s to a happy and healthy allergy season!
Kirsi Jarvinen-Seppo, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor in Pediatric Allergy/Immunology and Allergy/Immunology and Rheumatology. She is a pediatric food allergist and the director of the Center for Food Allergy at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital.