Get ready for a full-on pollen assault if you live in one of the many areas that experienced a mild winter and early spring this year. Across the country, pollen levels are rising a month earlier than is typical. That means an extended period of seasonal allergy hell.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), released its annual “Spring Allergy Capitals” report Wednesday, naming the top 100 cities with higher than average pollen problems. The top five most challenging places to live with spring allergies this year are:
- Jackson, MS
- Memphis, TN
- Syracuse, NY
- Louisville, KY
- McAllen, TX
But that’s just the top of the list, people are sneezing and rubbing their eyes all over America. The No. 1 worst city for allergy sufferers in the Midwest is Wichita, Kansas, in the Northeast it’s Syracuse, New York, in the South – Jackson, Mississippi and in the West it is Tucson, Arizona
If you are one of the more than 50 million Americans with seasonal nasal allergies, below are some ways to make life a little less horrible during the next couple of months:
1: Take your meds now
If your doctor recommends that you take allergy medication, or you have an over the counter product that you rely on, consider taking it when you see the pollen count is high even if you aren’t yet experiencing any symptoms. Waiting until you feel lousy can make it harder for the medication to do its job.
2: Know exactly what is making you sick
Getting an allergy test lets you know what kinds of pollen trigger your allergies, and can make it easier to avoid what triggers an attack. For example, if grass pollen is an issue for you, find someone who can cut your grass and avoid hanging out in your yard immediately after it is cut – as well as when your neighbor is cutting his or her lawn.
3: Consider your air quality
For many of us, spring means opening up the windows and enjoying the balmy breezes. But for allergy sufferers it’s probably better to shut the windows and turn on the AC when pollen counts are high. Driving with open windows is also not a great idea. If you have seasonal allergies, you want to limit your exposure to pollen as much as possible.
- Shower a lot
Wash off pollen when you get home from work, and definitely shower when you return home from a day outdoors. You want to get the pollen off you as soon as possible, and definitely before you get into bed. And even if you do shower before bed, air it out in the morning rather than making it right away during allergy season.
- Hands off your eyes
Rubbing your itchy eyes may be nearly irresistible, but fight off the temptation. If your eyes are itching, you’re probably outside, and if you’re outside you probably have pollen on your hands. Introducing more pollen into already angry eyes is obviously a bad idea. If you must rub, wash those hands first. But remember rubbing will only irritate your eyes even further. Consider putting a cool towel over your eyes instead. PS: wear sunglasses when you’re outside even if it’s a shady day, they will block some of the pollen.
6: Watch your fruit, nut and veggie intake
If your allergies are especially active, eating some types of vegetables and fruits may trigger an allergic response. This is called pollen food allergy syndrome (PFAS) or oral allergy syndrome. The first sign that you’re experiencing this is tingling or itching in your mouth and around your lips, following consumption of the trigger food.
The most common triggers include:
Additionally, the sulfites found in dried fruit and red wine can worsen your nasal congestion.
If allergies are keeping you from enjoying spring, consider seeing an allergist or a doctor. If you don’t have the time or the budget to devote to a doctor’s visit for your allergies, investigate telemedicine plans. The telemedicine plans offered on dentalplans.com provide free consultations with a licensed physician in your state who can discuss your symptoms and provide treatment options – including prescription medications if necessary to manage allergies or associated conditions such as sinus infections.