Spring should be a time to celebrate the end of cold weather and snow, but for many of us it is a time of an even greater evil -- spring allergies. While most people yearn for the start of spring, those who suffer from allergies often wish the snow would last longer. I just developed spring allergies a few years ago, and have compiled a list of things I wish I had known when I first started getting symptoms.
One of the biggest surprises about spring allergies that I discovered is that they can spring up at any time (no pun intended). Up until three years ago, I never had the slightest reaction to pollen, but for some reason, I developed a horrible reaction to it that seemingly came out of nowhere. So if you start to notice that you have a perpetual cold in the spring, you may want to consult your doctor to see if you have developed seasonal allergies, even if you never had them before.
Most people assume that they are allergic to flowers and weeds in the spring, but there are many other things you can be allergic to. When I first went to an allergy doctor, he explained that there are four main categories of allergies for those with cold-like symptoms: plants/weeds, animals, mold, and trees. Turns out, many people with spring allergies are actually allergic to tree pollen, and not flowers.
Like I mentioned before, there are four main categories of allergens you can get tested for if you are having cold-like symptoms (plants/weeds, animals, mold, and trees). Typically, an allergy doctor will stick you with ten common allergens from each category that are most prevalent in your region. If the area you are pricked with becomes swollen and itchy, that means you are allergic to that particular item. This can be helpful if you want to know what kinds of things you should avoid coming into contact with.
One of the biggest mistakes allergy sufferers make is that they start taking their medication after they start feeling symptoms. If you start your medication two to three weeks before allergy season starts, you can offset your symptoms, often significantly. Many pharmacies will announce when you should start taking your allergy medication if you are a spring allergy sufferer, so consult with your local pharmacy if you are not sure when to do so.
While there aren't any "cures" for allergies, there are ways of keeping them under control. There are many allergy medications, such as nose spray and eye drops, that help to keep the symptoms at bay; but if you find that these medications are only helping marginally, there are other treatment options available, namely desensitization shots. These shots are designed to expose you to the specific allergens that are causing your reaction so that your body can build up immunity against them. So don't lose hope if your allergy medication isn't working; there are other options!
While different people react differently to pollen, one of the most bothersome symptoms many people face is itchy eyes. If you feel the need to rub your eyes because they are itchy, resist the urge! If pollen gets in your eyes, rubbing them will only cause them to react more. The best thing you can do is clean out your eyes with saline and use anti-itch eye drops.
Ultimately, as hard as it is, sometimes staying inside even on those beautiful spring days is the best thing you can do to keep your allergies at bay. Just remember to keep all of you windows shut to keep that pesky pollen from entering your safe haven!
Spring allergies can be such a nuisance. What other tips do you have for dealing with spring allergies?
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