As a group of my colleagues at Guardian Nurses headed to our parking lot last week, we all noticed the pollen that had settled on our cars in just eight hours. No wonder so many of us have been sneezing and blowing our noses!
And just this past weekend, I spent some time with a friend and as he walked up to my front door, he was sneezing. As he covered his sneeze with his tissues, I could tell his eyes were red, swollen, and irritated. Once he was able to say ‘hi,’ I could hear the congestion in his head.
Allergy season is here once again. This month’s issue of The Flame offers a dozen tips to deal with your allergies. Hopefully one or two might help minimize your suffering. But just in case, keep your tissues handy!
Best wishes to you this spring!
— Betty Long, RN, MHA, President/CEO, Guardian Nurses Health Advocates
Tips for Allergy Sufferers
Allergies! Every year we tire of the cold and dreary winter and anxiously anticipate the spring flowers, then, ACHOOO! Allergies! All of those gorgeous flowers have one very specific down-side…pollen. This time of year it is literally EVERYWHERE—on the blossoms, in the air, on our cars, and on our bodies.
Here are a dozen helpful tips for all ages, to help keep allergy symptoms at bay:
- Shut out breezes. It’s a gorgeous day. But if the pollen count is high, keep the windows and doors closed to protect your indoor air. Letting all of that ‘fresh air’ in also lets in the pollen. If your house gets too warm, use your air conditioning. You could also consider installing a HEPA filter on your air-conditioning system.
- Wash up. Each time you walk into your home, you bring small pieces of the outside world with you. After being outdoors, your clothes, shoes, hair, and skin are covered with tiny particles from everywhere you’ve been. Take a bath or shower and change your clothes to wash away any allergens. Leave your shoes at the door, too.
- Don’t rub your eyes. Seriously. Unless you like the feeling of pollen ground into your eyes. Rubbing the eyes will only increase the inflammation and irritation. If your eyes are burning, use cool compresses, like a wet washcloth or wet paper towel. There are also over-the-counter allergy eye drop options as well.
- Take a Shower. Especially before heading to bed. Wash head to toe to remove pollen. Believe it or not, pollen collects rather well on the hair. Unless it’s washed off, it will come off on your sheets when you’re sleeping which will only make your allergy symptoms worse.
- Blow your nose after coming in from outside and after showering. Turns out, our nasal hairs are there to protect us and collect things like pollen and dirt. We just need to help the pollen get back out. So, blow freely!
- Drink More. If you feel stuffy or have postnasal drip from your allergies, sip more water, juice or other non-alcoholic drinks. The extra liquid can thin the mucus in your nasal passages and give you some relief. Warm fluids like teas, broth or soup have an added benefit: steam!
- Bloody nose from severe nasal allergies? Add moisture with a saline nasal spray and a tiny bit of Vaseline or Aquaphor to the nasal septum (wall) each night before bed. (Apply with a Qtip and rub in gently)
- Take antihistamines. Allergy medications, if approved by your primary care provider or specialist, can help provide reasonable relief of allergy symptoms. Depending on how allergies affect you, there are oral, nasal spray, topical, and eye drop options available.
- Allergy testing. This can be a reasonable option if you’re not able to identify what your allergy triggers are. Check with your primary care provider for more specific information about testing.
- Carry your inhaler if you have asthma. Allergies can be a huge trigger for asthma attacks and carrying your inhaler (and using it) can be the difference between keeping ahead of your symptoms and landing in the emergency room. (p.s. asthma patients….you DO have an inhaler, don’t you??)
- Bees! Stand back! Bees are coming out of hibernation and they love pollen! If you have an allergy to bees, carrying an Epi-pen is a must! (This is also a good time to refresh your memory in how to use your Epi-pen and make sure it isn’t expired. Practice makes perfect!)
- Wear a Mask. Remember those? It will keep allergens from getting into your airways when you can’t avoid certain triggers–like when you work in your yard or vacuum the house. An N95 respirator mask, available at most drugstores and medical supply stores, will block 95% of small particles, such as pollen and other allergens.