Getting the Jump on Allergy Season

sick woman allergies sneeze tissue

While most people get excited about the coming of spring, those with bad seasonal allergies know that it signals the arrival of a running nose, itching eyes, and a variety of other symptoms that can make life miserable. Fortunately, getting a head start on your allergy symptoms before the season starts can keep allergies at bay even when plants start releasing pollen in earnest. Rather than consigning yourself to the air-filtered indoors until summer rolls around, follow a few of these allergy-fighting tips to get yourself on track for a less sniffly allergy season.

Start Taking Allergy Medications Before Your Allergies Start
It might seem odd to take allergy meds before the allergy season even starts, but doing so can go a long way to lessening the severity of your allergies. Allergies are a type of inflammatory response that happen when your body mistakes pollen particles for potentially dangerous foreign invaders. A special class of immune cells called mast cells sit along the inside of your airway and are activated when they pick up these particles of pollen. They release a bunch of chemicals including one called histamine that activates other neighboring mast cells and leads to the symptoms of seasonal allergies.

More: Surprising Allergy Triggers

Once this initial trigger occurs, it can take a while for the inflammation to calm down and for your body to go back to normal. While residual inflammation is around, your airway is sensitive and easily triggered, which means you’re more likely to have issues even if you’re taking something for the symptoms. The slightest whiff of pollen will send your eyes tearing because your body hasn’t fully recovered from the first bout of reaction. Taking medications helps block that first reaction from being as big — that means your body recovers faster and is less reactive, adding up to fewer symptoms overall. Rather than having a bad first reaction at the beginning of the season and playing catchup, taking medications early on allows you to block the initial response and keep your levels of allergic inflammation low.

Check Outdoor Conditions Before You Go Out
One of my favorite parts of my weather app is the pollen and air quality index. I think consulting the pollen count and air quality index before heading out the door is absolutely essential for anyone with asthma or seasonal allergies. Even if you don’t have a smartphone, most weather websites (or even a quick Google search) will give you information about the pollen conditions in your area.

If you’re normally an active person, have a backup workout plan if pollen conditions are particularly bad outside. That might mean an indoor workout on a day pollen levels are high or heading to the pool rather than going out for a run in the woods. Knowing pollen counts also allows you to take something for your allergies before you go out if being in the outdoors is inevitable. As I discussed above, getting ahead of the game with medications helps to keep your reactions to a minimum when you are eventually exposed to pollen.

Pollen-Proof Your Home and Evening Routine
While you might not be able to escape pollen when you head outside, there’s a lot you can do to keep it out of your home. While it might seem a bit depressing to seal up your house during the spring, your sinuses will thank you for it. Remember, it’s only until pollen levels drop in the summer. The best way to do this is to make sure the windows around your home are tightly closed and that you have a way to close off any areas that open to the outside. Putting a draft guard on the bottom of your doors will help keep outside air from creeping in under your front and back door. You can then use your air conditioner for ventilation since it comes with a built in filter that can help keep pollen out.

More: 10 Tips to Avoid Allergens

I also recommend keeping your outdoor clothes as isolated from the rest of the house as possible. Take off jackets and sweaters in the entryway and leave them there with your shoes. These often hang on to pollen that can then get distributed throughout your house if you’re not careful. Taking a shower when you get home or before bed can help to remove pollen so that you don’t sleep surrounded by it all night. These small steps prevent you from being triggered by pollen particles even when you’re in your air-filtered home.

Take Allergy Medications Daily
Lastly, it’s a good idea to take your allergy medications regularly during allergy season, rather than just waiting for your allergies to act up. Taking them on a regular basis helps ensure that you have enough of these inflammation- and histamine-fighting medications circulating to ward off significant reactions. This can help keep your allergies at an annoying smoulder rather than a raging wildfire.

The key to allergy control during allergy season is thinking ahead. Check your medicine cabinet and make sure you have all of the medications you need. Visit your doctor and get any missing prescriptions written. Go around your home and check for doors without draft guards or windows that aren’t quite closed. This will ensure that you’re ready for allergy season. Pollen, do your worst!