Every Breath You Take – 5 Tips to Help Relieve Your Family of Seasonal Allergies
American author and clergyman Henry van Dyke once observed, “The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.” After a few days of spring weather you and your family no sooner pack up all the winter coats when winter blasts back for a day or two, forcing you to dig them all back out again. Adding insults to injury are the allergy symptoms – sneezing, eyes that itch and water, and respiratory problems.
The Family that Sneezes Together
If your family suffers from seasonal allergies, then you aren’t alone. James Sublett, a managing partner at Family Allergy and Asthma in Louisville, Kentucky, estimates that about 40 million people suffer from some type of seasonal allergy each year.
Some of the most common allergens are plant based such as trees and pollen, mildew or mold spores, cockroaches, fleas, and dust mites, and fur-bearing pets like cats, dogs, and rodents. If family’s home is prone to invasion from a mouse or two each winter, it’s important to know that the rodent dander can set off allergies as well.
Eliminating these triggers is the most surefire way to prevent them from plaguing your family. However, it’s impossible to eliminate everything. What if you aren’t sure what the allergy trigger is? Every time you walk outside on a spring day your clothing, shoes, and any exposed skin becomes covered in allergens.
The best way to combat these allergens is to take a shower and throw those pollen-infested clothes into the hamper – or better yet, the washing machine – as soon as you come inside. Leave shoes in the laundry room, mudroom, garage, front hall closet, or some other area that is not within the prime living area of your home.
Know Thy Enemy
From ragweed to mold spores, warm weather brings out the worst of allergy culprits. But unless you know exactly what allergens cause your symptoms to flare up, how do you know if you need pet dander, have symptoms of dust mite exposure, or hay fever remedies?
The one that causes your runny nose might be completely different than the one that causes your head congestion or causes your eyes to puff up, itch, and water. The quickest, easiest way to learn this information is by visiting an allergist or a skin test. However, sometimes your primary care physician can administer the test.
During the procedure, your skin – usually on the inside of your forearms or along your spine – is pricked slightly with different instruments, each one soaked in a different allergen. Reactions take up to 15 to 20 minutes to appear, although some might appear immediately.
The reaction is almost always in the form of a light rash, hives, redness, or swelling. Now that the doctor can diagnose which allergen is causing you to experience symptoms, you can be sure that the medication you are getting isn’t a blanket to cover any symptoms you assumed you had before the allergy test.
Are there Allergies in Your DNA?
According to Dr. James Sublett, a clinical professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, “Allergens have a strong genetic component – if your parents had allergies, you’re far more likely to have them yourself. Most allergies develop in childhood, but in some people, they develop later after exposure to environmental factors ‘flip the switch’. The end result is a response in the immune system.”
Because you can’t eliminate the traits your parents and grandparents handed down to you through your DNA it might seem like avoiding allergies is impossible! However, that’s not the case. Here are some tips for avoiding allergies and eliminating as many of the symptoms as possible from your transition between the seasons.
- Treat early in the season, the earlier the better. Some places in warmer climates begin to experience springtime allergy problems in late January.
- Close windows between 5:00am and 1:00pm to avoid letting pollen into your home. Yes, there is pollen in the air at all times. However, during these hours is when the count is at its highest.
- Natural remedies for allergies can work as well if not better than prescription methods. Neti pots, a cup of tea with a spoonful of local honey, and eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids have all been linked to relief from allergy symptoms.
Remember – never try a remedy without consulting your physician!