Hope & Healing: The UF Health Blog

Surviving the sniffles this allergy season

Springtime is a season of allergies - here's some tips on how to survive the sniffles

Spring has sprung! For most people that means beautiful weather, outdoor activities and blooming flowers. For about 50 million adults that means sneezing, itchy red eyes, and other uncomfortable symptoms, a result of allergies.

Allergies are the immune system’s response to foreign substances that are usually harmless, and can be experienced seasonally, or all year.

Hay fever or allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction of the nose. “Seasonal allergies are caused by pollen exposure during the pollenating tree, grass, and weed seasons,” says John Harwick, M.D., a board-certified otolaryngologist at the UF Health Allergy, Sinus and Nasal Center – Hampton Oaks.

For those who experience allergy symptoms every year, this season is their time to avoid certain activities, stay indoors, and stock up on tissues. Instead of missing out, read our tips to prepare for allergy season and make the best of this time of year.

Clean house

When you do your spring cleaning, go the extra mile to eliminate allergens in the home. Minimize the number of indoor household plants, as they can let release spores and pollen into the air. Wash your bedding frequently in hot water, and as soon as you get home, take off the clothes you wore outdoors.

Dr. Harwick advises keeping your home and car sealed to further prevent allergens from getting inside your living space.

“Those who suffer seasonal allergies should keep windows closed at home and in the car and use air conditioning.”

Suit up!

When you head outside for the day, the clothes you wear can protect you from allergic reactions. Wearing large sunglasses can reduce the amount of pollen that can get in your eyes, and a hat will help keep pollen out of your hair.
Before going outside, applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly on the nostrils can create a barrier to help trap pollen before it travels into the nose.

Plan your vacation accordingly

Instead of staying indoors on days when the pollen count is high, plan your vacations around those times. Visit websites like pollen.com or weatherunderground.com to look at the pollen forecast and determine when there will be the most allergens in the air. Plan to leave town for a vacation on days when the pollen is the highest.

“If possible avoid going out in the early AM when pollen counts are often the highest.”

Why managing allergies is important

Managing allergy symptoms can be a lot more beneficial than just preventing itchy eyes and a runny nose. Allergies can lead to other health issues, and increased hospital visits.

“Many patients are unaware that allergies can be the cause of asthma, ear infections, sinus infections, and dizziness and can be a trigger for migraine headaches,” said Dr. Harwick. Allergies can also affect one’s quality of life.

“They can be the cause of deceased concentration ability resulting in poor work or school performance as well as accounting for missed school and work days,” Harwick said.

Dr. Harwick and other board-certified otolaryngologists at the UF Health Allergy, Sinus and Nasal Center can help you manage your allergies and treat your symptoms. Call 352.265.0920 to make an appointment.

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Chelsea Slater

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