How to conquer allergies and avoid what triggers them.
Spring rains, air heavy with pollen, blowing ragweed—depending on where you are in the country, spring can wreak havoc on your allergies. The good news: Although you’ll need to consult an allergist to develop a plan for serious symptoms, there are some triggers and symptoms you can avoid with careful planning.
Mold and mildew
Short-term rain is a blessing for most allergy sufferers. Outdoor pollens—a major culprit for many allergy sufferers—calm down, which can spell relief. But persistent rain also creates a happy haven for mold and mildew. If you’re prone to mold and mildew allergies, avoid going outside on rainy or windy days when mold spores may be flying around. Weather.com has a mold spore map of the United States that shows where they’re most concentrated.
Avoid the types of places molds like to concentrate, such as compost heaps, wet leaves and grass clippings.
If you’re sensitive to the various allergens that may fly around in the wind, you can check high pollen counts in your area. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s National Allergy Bureau allows you to view local levels, and even create a personalized account that automatically emails you an alert. You can also get a four-day allergy forecast at Pollen.com. Weather may be calmer in the morning, so plan to avoid the outdoors in the afternoon.
For many people, simply adding an allergy facemask to their gear can help immensely. Look for masks online or in your local pharmacy. And protective eyewear—as simple as a pair of sunglasses—can help screen out blowing microscopic allergens.
For golfers affected by pollens, consider this: Most pollen is released early in the morning, shortly after dawn. Grasses pollinate in late spring and summer, and the grasses that most commonly cause allergic reactions include Kentucky bluegrass, Timothy, Rye and Bermuda. Peak pollen hours are between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Even though it might be tough to get in an entire round, taking in a twilight tee time might be better for your allergies and your wallet.
Without careful planning, allergens inevitably get tracked in from the outdoors. Don’t hang your clothes outside to dry, where they could collect pollen and mold. Set your air conditioning on “recirculate,” which can exclude pollen and mold from the air inside your home. Central air conditioning systems with a replaceable or washable HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter can help control air quality, and adding portable room air filters can also help remove allergens from the air.
Make sure you’re not sleeping in allergens. Purifying the air you’re breathing, setting the correct humidity level and keeping a clean bedroom all help reduce allergens in your environment. But tossing and turning all night in bedding that has trapped irritants can undo a lot of your good work. Invest in dust mite covers for your mattress, box spring, pillows and comforter. Choose a hypoallergenic comforter or blanket (the highest quality brands offer a 30-day allergy-free guarantee). Make sure your pillows are hypoallergenic, too. And simplify your bedroom: Decorative pillows, blankets and stuffed animals provide more places for allergens to hide. Clear out any unnecessary clutter, including storage bins, books, upholstered furniture and additional window coverings.
If you’re sensitive to molds and mildews, make sure you minimize them inside.
Manage humidity in the home environment. The aim is to bring the humidity around 40 percent. Running dehumidifiers, especially in the basement, can be very helpful. This will reduce the mold growth.
If you’re thinking of installing carpet on concrete or in areas that are prone to dampness, reconsider. Carpet traps humidity.
Don’t use damp areas for storage—those areas can damage your belongings and give safe harbor to mold and mildew. If you need to handle items you’ve already stored that have visible mold growth, use a mask and protective gear.
Identify, repair and seal all leaks to minimize dampness.
Remember, for persistent allergy suffering, your best bet is to visit an allergy specialist, who can pinpoint your triggers and work with you to develop a medication and lifestyle plan.
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TO LEARN MORE
Check out the pollen count map from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
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