With springtime comes rain, flowers and lots of pollen. The constant runny or stuffy nose, the endless sneezing and itchy eyes it can all be overwhelming. To find out if you’re one of its victims, you’ll need to be tested by a doctor and can be given long-term relief in the form of an immunotherapy shot or a set of tablets.
Allergic rhinitis is a reaction in your immune system when your body inhales an allergen, such as pollen, and then releases histamines, neurotransmitters produced by the body as an inflammatory response. Allergic rhinitis is also a risk factor for asthma, a chronic lung disease that affects up to 25 million people, and narrows or inflames airways for breathing. This is most prevalent in the fall and spring, due to dust mites, autumn winds blowing ragweed — which affects up to 20% of Americans and grows throughout the country — and springtime’s blooming plants.
Before starting your day, you should check out an online pollen count like Pollen.com for your city. The pollen count is the concentration of grains of pollen for each cubic meter of air. This way, if the levels are moderate or high, you can cancel your stroll through the park. But if you must garden, consider wearing a pollen mask to cover your nose and mouth and sunglasses to protect your eyes.
It’s easy to find allergy relief at the drugstore. Antihistamine nasal spray or tablets can stop runny or itchy noses, and often work best before you start to feel the symptoms. Decongestants, on the other hand, cut down the fluid that lines your nose, allowing you to breathe easier. For irritated eyes, antihistamine eye drops can help.
In order to kill dust mites that collect in your bed, wash your pillowcases and sheets at least once a week in hot water. A 1992 study found that sheets washed in water hotter than 131 degrees Fahrenheit killed all mites.
Allergen-proof pillowcase and mattress covers are often used to block dust mites. A 2004 study that created such a controlled environment for children with asthma found that their contact with dust mites were significantly decreased, helping their asthma.
Good Housekeeping tested a bunch of these allergy barriers, and found that non-porous fabric or microfiber polyester fabric work best. Read more…