Dealing with Spring Allergy Symptoms
Allergy season is getting worse every year. Climate change, increased carbon dioxide emissions, and urban planning are major culprits. While it will take time (and policy change) to impact these causes, you can do more than just sit back and suffer. There are many ways to lessen your exposure to allergens and reduce your allergy symptoms on your own.
To better understand seasonal allergies, let’s talk about what causes these symptoms in the first place. Our immune system has five main pathways to protect our bodies from invaders. One pathway uses an immunoglobulin called IgE. When your body encounters an allergen, it releases IgE, which then sets off an immune response causing sneezing, itching, watery eyes, congestion, cough, and other types of inflammation. The goal of IgE is to get invaders out of your body, but, in the case of allergens, it causes an overreaction to something that won’t actually hurt it.
In the spring, the most common allergens are pollens from trees and grasses. Pollen is airborne and primarily outdoors so it follows that the most obvious way to reduce spring allergy symptoms is to avoid breathing in pollen. Spending more time indoors during allergy season is one way to protect yourself. Allergy sufferers can also step outside donning a mask, now that mask-wearing is more socially acceptable.
Don’t assume that just because pollen is made outside it will stay there. You can inadvertently allow it in by opening windows and doors and bringing pollen-bearing flowers and plants home (think lilies). Pets can also track pollen, so rinsing or brushing them off before allowing them back inside is important. Your clothes can carry pollen too. If you work or spend a lot of time outdoors, drop your clothes and shoes at the door before coming in.
Indoor HEPA air filters are a great way to clean the air. They work by forcing air through a dense mesh to trap allergens. Since they have to pull in the air to clean it, you’ll need one for each room in your home. If that’s too cost-prohibitive, get one for your bedroom, since that’s where you probably spend the most time. You have to also remember to clean the filters every month.