By: Dr. Gina Lynem-Walker, M.D. a Blue Cross and Blue Shield urgent care provider and physician consultant
Sunshine, warm weather and longer days have finally arrived, breathing new life and energy into metro Detroiters. However, with signs of new life outdoors, such as budding flowers and freshly-cut lawns, too many Michigan residents are reminded of another sign of the changing seasons, allergies. Spring 2016 will bring with it an abundance of sinus pain, itchy eyes, stuffy noses and sneezing for allergy sufferers.
If you are currently suffering from allergies, it’s safe to assume that you probably have coworkers, friends or family members that are dealing with the same issue. The Food and Drug Administration estimates that approximately 36 million people in the United States have to deal with seasonal allergies, referred to by some as “hay fever.”
Allergies range in severity and scope, which is why it’s important to initially seek out professional, medical assistance from a family physician or specialist to understand an individual’s risks and exposures. Some people have allergies that can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening, allergic reaction that can be triggered by anything from a bee-sting or specific type of food or medication, just to name a few causes. Having medical direction on how to prevent and treat these types of allergies is critical.
Luckily, for the majority of people dealing with ongoing, allergy symptoms this time of year, while the symptoms can be quite a nuisance, they are actually quite minor and can be easily treated. Here are a few tips to make living with allergies a bit more tolerable:
- Avoid being outdoors early in the morning, especially on hot, dry days. Allergen levels are usually highest at this time of day and under these conditions.
- Stay indoors when possible on days with high pollen counts. Websites such as pollen.com provide information on what pollens are currently present in your area and their current levels. You can also obtain upcoming, four-day forecasts on the site and even download an iPhone app for easier access to the information on a daily basis.
- Utilize air conditioning during the peak allergyseason. Keeping windows closed will help to decrease the amount of pollen entering your car and home.
- Freshen up after being outdoors. Don’t let allergies prevent you from enjoying the nice weather and getting active outside. Reduce allergyimpact when returning home from outdoor activities by showering and changing your clothes, which will help to remove any pollen you may have acquired while outdoors.
- Fight dust mites. Implementing simple techniques to combat dust mites in the bedroom can significantly decrease allergysymptoms. Washing bedding in hot water (greater than 140 degrees), a minimum of every two weeks, will help eliminate dust mites. You can also purchase mite-proof encasements for your bed and pillows at most department stores or on-line.
- Consider allergyshots. If you are suffering from severe allergy symptoms, consider allergy immunotherapy (allergy shots), which over time will desensitize you to the allergens causing your symptoms, and often allow you to enjoy the summer months without the need for allergy medications.
- Keep your pets clean.Bathing your pet on a consistent basis can dramatically help eliminate pet dander and other allergens that your pet may bring in from the outdoors. Talk to a veterinarian about what soap is best for your pet or simply use a warm water rinse to keep your pet clean and your sinuses clear.