This allergy season is shaping up to be one of the worst. Blame it on topsy-turvy temps and crazy storm patterns. Allergy sufferers know all too well about the sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and other allergy symptoms this time of year brings. But how much of the agony might they be bringing on themselves? You know who you are! Be a warrior this season, and fight seasonal allergies by avoiding these major blunders:
1. You leave your windows open.
“C’mon on in, pollen!” That’s pretty much what you’re doing with open windows, especially when pollen counts are high. Turn on the A/C, and make sure you have a good filter to capture any indoor allergens. Yeah, your utility bills will be higher, but you won’t be suffering, either. This includes your car windows.
2. You don’t pay attention to the weather.
Know when pollen counts are going to be cray-cray before you leave the house. Know what kind of pollen is floating through the air. Check pollen.com for a 5-day forecast, so you can have a plan of attack before the air attacks you.
3. You procrastinate with your meds.
Start treating your allergies early, long before the first sneeze. Don’t wait until you have symptoms. “This allows the medicine to prevent your body from releasing histamine and other chemicals that cause your symptoms,” say experts from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
4. You don’t mind your nose.
“Many people pop a decongestant when seasonal allergies hit. However, these dry your nasal passages, ultimately making symptoms worse,” says Dr. Gustavo Ferrer, MD, a Florida-based pulmonologist and author of Cough Cures. Before heading outside, take care of your nose with all-natural products such as Xlear Saline Nasal Spray or Seagate Olive Leaf Nasal Spray to help prevent symptoms from surfacing. Xlear contains xylitol, an ingredient found in many fruits and veggies which moisturizes, reduces tissue inflammation and naturally opens airways.
5. You keep exercising outdoors at the worst time.
Outdoor workouts are awesome. But when you suffer from allergies, forget morning and early afternoon sessions. Either work out indoors or save outdoor workouts for after work. At sunrise, grasses and trees start releasing pollen. By mid-morning and early afternoon, pollen counts hit their peak. Save yourself the red, watery eyes by modifying your workout times.
6. You aren’t watching your diet.
If you have lots of mucus, milk and dairy products should be avoided. “Research shows that milk makes mucus thick, thus worsening cough and post nasal,” Ferrer says. Also, avoid added sugar, sugary drinks, and the like. Not only are they bad for your waist line and your teeth, but too much can contribute to chronic nasal obstruction.
7. You keep on pollen-contaminated clothes too long.
As soon as you enter the house, change your clothes and throw the clothes you wore outdoors in the wash. While we’re on the subject of laundry, experts suggest you wash your bedding at least once a week, and use a clothes dryer for all laundry and not an outdoor line. Because drying your stuff outside kinda defeats the purpose.
8. You keep a dusty home.
No judgment from us. However, dust kicks up your allergy symptoms. Avoid triggers by keeping a clean home and monitoring clutter — things that sit around your home and collect dust mites.
9. You don’t wash your hands enough.
Hand-washing is like a “do-it-yourself” vaccine—it involves five simple and effective steps (Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry) you can take to help stay healthy. “Regular hand washing, particularly before and after certain activities, is one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others,” Ferrer says. Proper hand-washing should take 15 to 20 seconds.
10. You continue to let Fido sleep with you.
If your cat or dog spends time outdoors, allowing them to cuddle up next to you is a no-no. Pets can bring in pollen, dust, mold, and other allergens from the outdoors. Sorry, Fido!
11. You don’t seek help.
Don’t blow off seasonal allergies as something you just put up with annually. Talk to an allergist about your symptoms, and get to the bottom of what kind of allergies you have. Once you have a diagnosis, you can discuss the best treatment options for you. From nose sprays to decongestants to natural remedies, you have plenty of choices today.
Stacy Julien is editor in-chief of Crush Magazine.