The sun is starting to peek out from the clouds of a long, cold winter, which means things are warming up and spring is in bloom.
But for many people, this time of year also brings the start of an allergy season that can last through spring and summer. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), nasal allergies affect an estimated 50 million Americans and allergies overall affect as much as 40 percent of children in the U.S. and 30 percent of adults.
Allergic conditions are the most common health issues among American children, and a 2015 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that more than 26 million people (or more than 8 percent of both adults and children) were diagnosed with or reported having hay fever in a 12-month span.
It’s easy to look at numbers like those and think that some will just have to spend part of the year sneezing and dealing with a runny nose and red eyes. But, with a little information, many people can manage, and thrive with, their allergies. Here are a few tips to get started.
Know your triggers
Everybody’s allergies are different, and what triggers them in some might have no effect on others. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, mold and pollen from trees, grasses and weeds are the most common culprits. Ragweed is by far the most common plant that causes allergies and is found across the country.
Other likely causes include burning bush, cocklebur, lamb’s-quarters, pigweed, sagebrush, mugwort, tumbleweed and Russian thistle. Being aware of what causes your allergies can help you know what and where to avoid.
Keep an eye on outside conditions
If you know you’ve got allergies, understanding what’s going on outside of your house can help you manage them. The Mayo Clinic notes that staying indoors during dry, windy days can limit exposure because these are the times that pollen and other substances tend to be in the air the most. After it rains is a good time to be outside because it helps clear pollen from the air. If you must do chores outside, a pollen mask can reduce your exposure.
Finally, keep an eye on pollen and mold counts in your area. If they’re high, this can cause flare-ups, so taking extra steps – such as closing doors and windows, properly taking allergy medications and staying indoors – may help you avoid some of the more severe symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Make sure the air in your home is clean
Seasonal allergies are caused by extra materials, like pollen or dust, in the air, so keeping as many of those particulates out of your home as possible is important. Use air conditioning if you have it, and use high-efficiency filters if you have forced-air heating and cooling.
Additionally, a dehumidifier can keep the air in your home drier, while using a portable high-efficiency portable air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom and a vacuum with a HEPA filter can collect much of the particulate that causes flareups.
Help is out there
Of course, these measures won’t necessarily take care of your allergies completely, and in some cases people need medical assistance. If that’s the case, or if you’re just not sure what you should do, help is out there. It’s also key to remember to never take medications without first consulting a qualified health care professional.
The Allergy, Asthma and Immunology physicians at Billings Clinic are specialists in the management of allergies. At Billings Clinic, the allergy team’s goal is to address your symptoms and provide you with the best treatment available, and their services includeskin testing, spirometry (lung function testing), peak flow meters, spacers, AAE certified asthma education nurses, oral challenges to medications and foods, patch testing and vaccine challenges, all to help find the best way to manage your allergies.
For more information allergy treatment at Billings Clinic, visit www.billingsclinic.com/allergy or call 406-238-2500.
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