Yes, spring is here. The birds are chirping and the snow is finally gone. It should be a time of joy. Unfortunately, for people with allergies it is a time of sniffling, sneezing and itchy eyes. It is called hay fever.
Hay fever occurs in the spring when the trees, grasses, weeds, etc.begin to bloom and release pollen. It is the allergic reaction to pollen that causes hay fever. Pollen is usually emitted between 5 am and 10 am. Therefore, the highest level of pollen is in the late morning and early afternoon. Warm temperature, high humidity and wind also raise the amount of pollen in the air.
Most prescription hay fever medications are steroid nasal sprays. They reduce inflammation, nasal itching and runny nose. Their side effects include an unpleasant taste and/or smell and nose irritation. Over the counter hay fever treatments are usually antihistamines or decongestants or a combination of the two. Antihistamines relieve sneezing, itchy eyes and runny nose. They do have some side effects. Those side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation and blurred vision. They are also not recommended for people with glaucoma, as they can raise the pressure in the eye. Decongestants are available as eye drops, nose sprays or as tablets. They narrow blood vessels and reduce blood flow in the eye, nose, sinuses, etc. and improve breathing. The tablets should not be taken by people who have high blood pressure, heart problems, thyroid disease, diabetes or prostate problems.
Some of the natural hay fever remedies include the herb butterbur. This herb acts as an antihistamine. Vitamin C is also a natural antihistamine. A common flavonoid called quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties which block histamines. It is found in onions, apples and black tea Magnesium supplements help improve breathing, Drinking a lot of cool water will help your body eliminate toxins. Also, nasal salt rinses help to wash away the pollen in the nasal cavity. Avoid dairy products like milk and cheese as they increase the production of mucus.
To keep pollen out of your house, leave your windows closed and run the air conditioning to filter the air. Air purifiers will also help to filter the pollen out of the air in your house. Change the air filters on the furnace. The furnace filters should be an allergy grade. Using a dehumidifier will reduce the humidity indoors.
To keep pollen from building up, vacuum and dust often. The vacuum should contain a HEPA filter so it traps pollen instead of blowing it back into the air. Wear a NIOSH approved face mask when vacuuming or dusting. Wash all bedding regularly. Establish a “no footwear in the house” rule. This will keep the pollen on them from being tracked into the house. Also, wash your hair when returning from the outdoors as it will collect pollen. Do not run an attic fan as it will draw the pollen in from the outside. In addition, do not dry the laundry outdoors as it will pick up the pollen.