summer allergies

The May 2018 issue of Wellness for Generations newsletter brings…As May heats up, so does allergy season. Arm yourself with the tools to combat that – plus how to protect your skin and teens!! The first article, in its entirety below, provides you with tips to help you or your family manage seasonal allergies. Or read the entire issue here.

Manage Your Allergies This Season

Red, itchy eyes. Stuffy nose. Headaches. Fatigue. These are just some of the symptoms you may be feeling right now as North Carolina trees and flowers pop. While it’s nice to see some green after a long winter, many people in our area suffer from allergies and asthma brought on by our beautiful plants.

May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. Roughly 13 percent of people 18 and over in the U.S. have sinusitis, and about 8 percent of people 18 and over in the U.S. have hay fever. And North Carolina isn’t an easy habitat for those with allergies; we often make lists such as “Worst Places to Live if You Have Allergies.”

If you’re among the miserable this season, here are some things you can do to alleviate your troubles.

  • Know your triggers. Get some allergy tests so you know what is causing your symptoms. Pollen, mold, and dust mites are the three most common allergens in North Carolina, but you might find out you’re allergic only to grass pollen, not tree pollen. Or, you learn it’s some mold inside the house causing problems, not something in the backyard.
  • Take action. Once you identify the problem, you can do your best to avoid it. For example, if you have a strong allergy to grass pollen, avoid mowing the lawn. If dust mites have you waking up with puffy eyes, buy allergy covers for your mattress and pillows. More steps for various allergens are listed below.
  • Take medicine. You might have to try different brands; your metabolism may be a mismatch for some. Also, allergy medications build upon themselves. That means you don’t take it one day and skip it the next like you would with ibuprofen for a headache. Instead, take it daily during your high allergy season. Start taking it before the worst part of the season hits. If you have indoor allergies as well as outdoor, you might take it year-round. Talk to your Generations provider about this.
  • Use eye drops. Eye drops are an excellent way to soothe itchy eyes. But avoid using any that contain naphazoline or tetrahydrozoline, which constrict blood vessels. While this will reduce redness, it’s terrible for your eyes. (Also, warning: eye drops are harmful if consumed. Keep away from children and seek medical attention if swallowed.) For general eye care, go with artificial tears. Allergy suffers can try Alaway or Zaditor. For severe allergies, speak to your doctor about prescription eye drops.
  • Try saline. Use a salt-water solution to clear congestion and ease your nasal membranes.
  • Drink water. Whether your allergy medication contains a decongestant or not, these medications tend to dry you out. Drink extra water to stay hydrated.

What to Watch for in Kids

Children will not know they have allergies, but they may not be feeling well. Keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Runny nose. Children often have runny noses, but if the mucus is thin and clear, it’s more likely to be allergies than a cold.
  • Complaints of an itchy or tingling mouth or throat.
  • Red, swollen eyes.
  • Welts on the skin or dry, red patches.
  • Complaints of headaches and fatigue with no other known source.
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing.

Other Allergy Management Actions

For Outdoor Allergies: Pollens & Plants

  • Remove your shoes outside your front door and change clothes immediately to avoid bringing in extra pollen.
  • Brush your outdoor pets’ fur and wipe their feet when they come in the house.
  • Shower at night to wash off pollen from your body and hair before bed.
  • Exercise inside instead of outside.
  • Wear a mask while doing outdoor chores or yard work.
  • Keep the windows closed.

For Indoor Allergies: Mold

  • Close the windows at night, when airborne mold spore counts increase.
  • Use a dehumidifier in your house and aim for 35 to 50 percent humidity. (You can buy a meter at the hardware store to measure this.)
  • Wear a mask while raking leaves, mowing, or digging up plants and shower afterward.
  • Vent your bathroom, where moisture is often present.
  • Store things in waterproof, airtight containers if they are in the basement.
  • Add a HEPA filter to your AC and drain AC drip lines and pans.
  • Take action quickly if you spot a leak in your home.

For Indoor Allergies: Dust Mites

  • Wash bedding each week in water that is 130 degrees. Same for rugs, or dry clean them.
  • Wash stuffed animals.
  • Dust and vacuum regularly, and wear a mask while doing so. Use microfiltration bags on your vacuum.
  • Damp mop floors.
  • Get rid of carpet.
  • Use a dehumidifier in your house and aim for 35 to 50 percent humidity. (You can buy a meter at the hardware store to measure this.)

More allergy questions? Talk to your doctor about what you can do to feel better this season.