When spring rolls around, it brings singing birds, blooming flowers, budding trees ... and sneezing, runny noses and watery eyes. An estimated 25 million Americans suffer from spring allergies or hay fever, making it a season of discomfort for many.
What triggers these symptoms? There are usually three pollen seasons: spring, summer and fall. With trees generally pollinating in the spring, Missouri’s biggest allergy triggers are oak, cedar, hickory, walnut and ash trees. Because of Missouri’s frequent weather changes, pollen levels may start rising as early as January or as late as March.
Trees release large amounts of pollen that can travel miles, which means even if you’re far away from trees, you may still feel the effects. Luckily there are ways to find relief:
- Avoid outdoor activities when pollen counts are high. This is generally from about 5-10 a.m. Schedule outdoor activities at other times of the day.
- Use rainy days to your advantage. Rain makes the pollen heavier so it decreases the amount floating in the air.
- Wear gloves and a mask when gardening. To filter pollen, you can wear a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health NIOSH)-rated 95 filter mask. Avoid touching your eyes, and when done, be sure to take a shower and wash your clothes.
- Keep your car and home windows and doors shut when pollen counts are high. It will not eliminate the pollen in your home, but it will decrease it. Using a HEPA filter vacuum and air purifier will also help.
- Use a clothes dryer, not a line outside, to avoid collecting pollen on your clothes
Taking a daily nasal corticosteroid and antihistamine should help to decrease any allergy symptoms this spring. If you have eye symptoms, over-the-counter allergy eye drops can be helpful. At MU Health Care’s ENT and Allergy Center, we offer immunotherapy allergy treatments, including shots, drops that go under your tongue, tablets that dissolve in your mouth and toothpaste. Daily or weekly treatments are available. They typically continue for three to five years.
Recent studies indicate allergies may be underdiagnosed and undertreated, especially for school-age children. Allergy symptoms are often mistaken for the common cold. If you or your children are having symptoms that last longer than seven to 10 days, you might benefit from allergy treatment. Please call the ENT and Allergy Center at 573-817-3000 to schedule a consultation with one of our providers.