Outsmarting Allergies

Allergies are caused by allergens such as molds, pollen, and animals. An allergen is any substance that is capable of causing an allergic reaction. Most people are familiar with the classic allergy symptoms, including:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Congestion

Seasonal allergies are triggered by outdoor allergens such as pollen and mold spores. Some people have allergies year-round due to indoor allergens from pets, mold, dust mites, and cockroach residue. Whether you have allergies year-round or only experience them during a certain season, there are steps you can take to help keep troublesome symptoms to a minimum.

Avoiding Allergens

The first step to controlling allergies is to avoid triggers. If you have seasonal allergies, you’ll want to avoid pollen and outdoor molds. Pollen can be difficult to avoid, but here are a few helpful tips:

  • Reduce the amount of time spent outside when your allergy symptoms seem to worsen. In general, tree pollens are present in the spring, grass pollens from late spring through summer, and weed pollens from late summer through fall.
  • Keep the windows of the house and car closed as much as possible during the pollen season. Pollen count tends to be higher on dry, sunny, windy days.
  • Take a shower after being outdoors to remove pollen that is stuck to hair and skin.

Depending on the allergen, making changes at home to control indoor allergens can be very helpful.  Here are a few helpful tips to reduce indoor allergy symptoms:

  • Wash your bedding every two weeks in hot water to kill any dust mites present.
  • Use a dehumidifier or the air conditioner as dust mites and mold thrive when indoor humidity is high.
  • Vacuum carpets and rugs frequently. If possible, opt for hardwood floors instead because carpets can trap animal dander.
  • Limit contact with pets and, if possible, keep them out of the bedroom and/or in an uncarpeted room.

For some people, making these changes may not always be sufficient to keep bothersome allergies at bay. Check back later this week for our complete guide to over-the-counter allergy medications!

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