Surviving seasonal allergies

For many people, the arrival of spring also marks the return of pollen allergies.

Since pollen is everywhere in the spring, and we can’t exactly stop breathing, what can be done to minimize our exposure to these irritating little molecules? Here are some tips.

Keep your windows closed so that pollen can’t enter your home, and do the same in your car. If you have air conditioning in your home and vehicle, use it. Not only do these units cool the air, they also filter pollen and other particles floating in the air.

If you know which type of pollen is problematic for you, watch for weather forecasts that provide information on airborne pollen levels. Pollen levels are usually highest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and are usually lower after it rains.

When you come in from an outdoor activity, remove your clothes and put them in the wash. Also take a shower to remove any pollen residue from your skin and hair. Hair is a real pollen magnet!

Also get into a daily habit of rinsing your nostrils out with a saline solution, to flush any pollen from your nasal passages. You can buy a product from the pharmacy or make your own solution using 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) each of table salt and baking soda mixed into 250 ml (1 cup) of boiled or bottled water. If you reuse a bottle for your solution, make sure to wash it when refilling.

There are many types of medication to relieve pollen allergy symptoms. For mild cases, a non-prescription antihistamine taken as needed may provide enough relief. For more severe cases where a person’s quality of life is very much affected, an anti-inflammatory nasal spray is generally more effective. It is best to start using it at least two weeks before the expected start of the problematic pollen season, and to keep taking it every day until the end of the season. Avoid the use of decongestants (taken orally or as a nasal spray), as they are of little use in allergy cases and can cause adverse effects.

For very severe cases, a desensitization treatment may be an option. For more information, speak to your pharmacist!

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