Sneezing, wheezing, coughing, itching, watering, and runny noses — too many of us know these symptoms far too well throughout the year. Allergies spell misery for about 50 million Americans according to the AAFA, or the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Whether it’s a dramatic change in the weather outside, the growth and flying of new pollens or coming in contact with something that your body is just hypersensitive to, all sufferers have their kryptonite. However, according to an article published by WebMD, there are ways to manage allergies instead of letting them constantly interfere with your life.
Identify What You Are Allergic To
Most people suffer from environmental allergens including animal dander, dust mites, molds and pollen. Sometimes people are even allergic to more than one. Process of elimination helps some people figure out what their allergen is, but it is not always so easy. A simple skin test at the doctor’s office can pinpoint exact allergens and your reaction to them so that you know what you are fighting against.
Control Your Allergen
Once you know what you are allergic to, the next step is to find ways to either control your exposure to the allergen or find a way to eliminate it.
For people that suffer from animal dander allergens, it can be very difficult to keep a pet. The allergens lie in the animal’s saliva, dandruff and in the urine — which can settle into floors and around the house. For most people, not having a dog or cat when there is an allergy is the best solution. However, if parting with a pet is impossible, it is suggested to keep at least one “safe room” in the house where the animal cannot enter. It is also suggested to brush the animal regularly outside to get rid of dead skin cells and to get leather furniture over fabric furniture since it is easier to clean.
For dust mite allergies, cleanliness and blockading the microscopic allergen are key. Dust mites feed on house dust and skin cells and their fecal matter is what produces the allergen. The bedroom is the number one spot to consider when controlling dust mites, as bedding is their favorite habitat. Hypo-allergen covers for pillows, mattresses and other furniture helps create a barrier that prevents the mites from digging down into our mattress. It is also suggested to wash bedding in hot water to kill the mites that are clinging to it. The suggested washing temperature is 130 F, so some water heater adjustment might be needed. The AAFA also suggests avoiding wall-to-wall carpeting, upholstered furniture, wool blankets and down-filled bedding.
Pollen counts at the turn of a new season are of high interest to many people who suffer outdoor allergies. Pollen count is the amount of plant pollen found in one cubic meter of air in a 24-hour period. Plants and trees release it when they pollinate and it can travel great distances. Trees pollinate in late winter and spring while plants pollinate in late spring and summer. Since the pollen is outdoors and we cannot control the environment, it is suggested to limit outdoor activity during high pollen count periods. It can be helpful to use websites such as The National Allergy Bureau and Pollen.com — they track pollen counts throughout the country. You can also keep windows shut and use air conditioning on “recirculation” to keep pollen out of your indoor air.
Outdoor mold is much like pollen except for that it is a fungus and that the allergen is found in the spores that become airborne. Mold allergies flare up most frequently in the summer and are highly affected by humidity levels. Knowing your mold allergen’s spore releasing conditions can help you decide what outdoor conditions to avoid. Indoor mold is easier to spot and can be eliminated by a simple cleaning solution of 5% bleach and a small amount of detergent.
Find Good Allergy Treatment
Allergies cannot be cured, but there are treatment solutions to help in coping with symptoms. Antihistamines and decongestants are popular for itchy and runny noses. Nasal steroid sprays are a prescription treatment that helps lower inflammation of your mucus membrane. They can be highly effective in controlling symptoms when they are used on a consistent basis. For the person that does not want to have to do a daily treatment, allergy shots are also a good option. The shots, or immunotherapy, are good options for people with severe allergies that are hard to control with basic treatments. People who start immunotherapy typically start out with two a week, but eventually taper off to only needing one once every four weeks.