Allergy symptomsThere’s a lot you can do about seasonal allergy symptoms – especially if you work closely with your doctor. To get the most from your doctor appointments, first know the right questions to ask.

Also, be prepared to answer your doctor’s questions – about your allergy triggers, symptoms, and responses to any medication you’ve taken. Then, you can discuss a treatment plan for seasonal allergies that may work best for you.

Is this Allergies or a Cold?

With hay fever, the typical symptoms are sneezing and a runny nose. But there’s also more itching and watering than is typical with colds, says Kelly Stone, MD, PhD, staff clinician with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. Eyes can be itchy and watery, too. Colds or flu may share some of these symptoms. But other symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, and body aches, also tend to be present.

Hay Fever Triggers

If you have hay fever, it may not take long for your nose to “sniff out” the general source of the problem – whether it’s trees blooming in spring, grass being mown in summer, or ragweed and mold flying in the fall. Although it’s easier said than done, avoid these triggers as much as possible.

For instance, try to stay inside when pollen counts are highest. That’s typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If your symptoms are really severe, stay inside with windows closed and use air conditioning, if needed. Also, keep your car windows closed, don’t hang clothing outside to dry, and check pollen counts. A good online source is the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.

Reduce Symptoms – Minimize Exposure

The average pollen particle is smaller than the width of a human hair.
Be an early bird. Pollen is release by most plants shortly after sunrise, but travels at its best on midday breezes. Pollen counts are highest between 10:00am and 4:00pm.
Use air conditioning to circulate indoor air and keep the windows closed.
Take a shower and change clothes after you’ve been working or playing outside.

Allergies at Work? Stay Productive

Do you ever space out at work due to your allergy symptoms or medication?
Take allergy medication, especially as pollen counts rise.
Pick non-sedating medicines. However, even sedating medicines will help. In one study, workers who took any kind of of allergy medicine were 10% more productive than those who took nothing.
Ask your manager to change filters in the air system to high-efficiency filters-MRV11 or MRV12.
If you have a private office, ask to have the carpet removed and replaced with wood or linoleum.
On a high pollen day, eat your lunch indoors.

Avoid Pollution

Common air pollutants such as ozone, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide don’t actually cause allergies. However, they irritate your nose and respiratory system making your symptoms feel worse.
Research shows higher truck traffic exposure boosts allergy symptoms. Avoid exposure. Some communities ban diesel truck traffic on residential streets. talk to your local neighborhood groups and planning departments if you think diesel traffic is too great on your street.
If you commute, pick a route that is relatively free of diesel exhaust.
Keep your windows closed and use your car’s air conditioning to recirculate indoor air.
If it is impossible to avoid diesel exhaust, wear a NIOSH-approved face mask to reduce your exposure.

Your Backyard

Got yard work but don’t want to sneeze? Wear a face mask and eyeglasses to keep pollen out of your nose and eyes. Here are some other handy tips:
Mow your grass often and keep the grass cut short. This will reduce grass pollen production.
Take an antihistamine about an hour before you mow.
Change clothes and shower after you mow. Be sure to rinse out your hair.
Worst grasses for allergies? Kentucky Blue grass, Bermuda grass and Rye grass.
Your best bet? Plant a lawn of tall fescues and mow to keep 3″ short.

Getting Out – Sporting & Activities

Outdoor events can be challenging with allergies. Mold thrives in vegetation near football fiels. Grass and tree pollens circulate at outdoor weddings. Botanical gardens have grass, tree and flower pollens. What to do??
With your doctor’s OK, use an antihistamine or nasal spray about an hour before you go.
Take a bottle of nasal saline solution. If symptoms flare, slip away and irrigate your sinuses.
If you’re a true outdoor enthusiast, talk to your doctor about daily allergy treatments for the entire season.
Ask your doctor about allergy shots which could desensitize your to the allergens in your area. Immunotherapy requires shots for two to five years. However, eventually your symptoms become milder and go away.

Can Family Medicine Associates Help?
We are now accepting patients 13 years and older.
Call us at (860) 388 – 9250 or Email Us

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Information provided on this website and in the Doctor’s Blog is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Please consult your health care professional for evaluation of your individual case.