Every year each American spends an average of $83 on non-prescription nasal sprays, eye drops, pills and other remedies to ward off allergies, according to marketing research firm IBISWorld. Sudden springtime temperature shifts and an explosion of pollen trigger many different allergy symptoms.
“One of the things that happened this year in Colorado is that we seemed to go right from winter to mid-spring with temperatures jumping,” according to Adam Dormuth, spokesman for National Jewish Hospital. “Due to that, we’ve had a much more abrupt beginning to the allergy season.”
Seasonal allergies or hay fever are common with the onset of spring pollen from grass, trees, flowers and other air particles that affect an estimated 35 million Americans. Common symptoms include sneezing, stuffy nose, congestion, watery and red eyes, and itching of the nose, throat and eyes. Over-the-counter drugs alleviate some symptoms but the abrupt shifts in temperatures and humidity are more than an annoying distraction.
Keeping track of daily pollen counts are helpful for asthmatics and those with severe allergies who may track air quality via weather reports online or news media reports.
“A person who knows their specific allergies such as cottonwood vs. cedar can monitor which days they might feel more symptomatic and take additional precautions,” Dormuth says.
Fortunately, National Jewish offers several helpful, but temporary remedy tips like: showering after being outside; closing home windows; driving with car windows closed; taking allergy medication at night; exercising indoors; and conducting regular nasal rinses.
A salt water or saline nasal rinse, while uncomfortable and unappealing, is a low-cost and effective relief, Dormuth says. And if you’ve been outside much of the day, it’s best to take your pollen-filled clothing off in the garage or laundry room or anywhere except the bedroom where you’re sleeping, Dormuth says.
“Many people undress and leave their dirty clothing in their bedroom, but that means your bringing all of the pollen stuck to your clothing with you in your bedroom. Then you’re exposed to that pollen all night while sleeping.”
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology suggests the following:
• Avoid being out on windy days. If you must be out, cover your mouth with a scarf or an allergen mask
• Avoid being outside when fertilizers and pesticides are applied to the lawns, trees or shrubs in your neighborhood
“If your allergies are really bothersome and over-the-counter medications are not working consult your physician or an allergist,” Dormuth says. “We also recommend that people who suffer from seasonal allergies have an allergy skin test done so that you can learn exactly what you are allergic to.”