If you are like an estimated 50,000,000 other Americans, you will suffer from nasal allergies this year. Rather than instantly reaching for the Claritin when the flowers start to bloom this spring, learn the symptoms of nasal allergies and how you can protect yourself and your family.
Unlike food or medicine allergies, there is often no single test used to diagnose any seasonal allergies– and many seasonal allergies are undiagnosed because of the costs associated with scratch tests or bloodwork. If you do have the time and money to find out exactly what types of pollen you are allergic to, a quick trip to the allergist can be your best bet. Scratch tests, where a small amount of an allergen gets scratched into the surface of your skin, can be used to diagnose allergic disorders, like food or drug allergies, allergic asthma, or eczema. If your reactions were mild, or if you can’t afford a trip to the allergist, the best test is a simple gauge of your health last year, primarily from late February to early May. Were you experiencing sniffles, a sore throat, or a headache? Even a general feeling of aches and pains or “tension headaches” during this period can be indicators of seasonal allergies.
How Do You Naturally Reduce Your Seasonal Allergy Symptoms?
Well, most of the natural ways to limit your symptoms involve restricting exposure (so stay inside, especially on windy days!) If you do have to head outside, make sure to be clean when you come back in! This involves taking off the clothes that you were wearing while out and cleaning off with a quick shower to rid yourself of any pollen that might have hitched a ride on your skin or hair. Give your family members who don’t share your allergies the chores like lawn mowing, hedge trimming, and anything else that might stir up your allergies. And if your allergies are incredibly severe, be sure to keep an eye on the tree and grass pollen, which can typically be found online with your regular weather forecast and make decisions about any outdoor activities accordingly.
If the counts are high, be sure to take any allergy medication that you need ahead of time, close any doors or windows, and be sure to do any activity, if necessary, after the early morning hours, when the pollen counts start to decrease.
What Medicines Should You Take for Your Allergies?
Since the regular cold medicine just won’t cut it most of the time, how do you deal with your allergies? There are a couple of different classes of drugs that can help– the antihistamines, which can rid you of your runny nose and dry eyes, decongestants, which can help clear your throat of any mucus, and combination medicines, which are a combination of the two (go figure.) Nasal and throat sprays are also an option, especially if your nose or throat seems dry or scratchy. The most popular antihistamine is Claritin, with Allegra and even Zyrtec falling into this category. Your decongestants include Mucinex, Sudafed, and other options. Combination medications include Claritin-D and Actified, a lesser-known but well-regarded allergy favorite. Allergists consulted by the FDA tended to recommend nasal sprays, especially those containing corticosteroids. Those sprays including corticosteroids are available over-the-counter as Nasacort and Flonase.
As for any other illness, if you are suffering from seasonal allergies, you should remain hydrated. Staying hydrated allows you to keep the mucus at a runnier consistency, which will aid in drainage. In a similar vein, be sure always to blow your nose! Sniffling, which leads to swallowing the mucus in the back of your throat, can worsen or prolong your allergy symptoms, and nobody wants that! If your allergies are severe, consider adding a humidifier to your room while you sleep, to encourage healthy air and allow you to breathe as cough-free as possible.
Do you have any seasonal allergy remedies that you’d like to share, or any questions about allergies that you want answers to? Let us know in the comments below!