The beautiful year-round Southern California weather gets even better with the arrival of spring and summer. While most people welcome the change in seasons, for many residents, the climbing temperatures accompany an increase in sneezing, itchy eyes, runny noses and other common seasonal allergy symptoms. But understanding your allergy triggers and the available treatment options can help you control your symptoms.
Worst Allergy Season on Record?
Many experts think this year’s allergy season will be one of the worst on record. While there is no precise way of predicting just how bad it will be, last year’s mild fall and winter weather could result in increased pollen production this spring—bad news for allergy sufferers. Millions of Americans experience seasonal allergies each year. For some, allergy symptoms aren’t too troublesome; for others, allergies can interfere with daily activities and quality of life. Whether your seasonal allergies are severe or mild, it is possible to keep them under control.
The most effective way of treating allergy symptoms is to avoid the things that cause them. If you can prevent exposure to your allergy triggers, you will stop symptoms before they start, rather than treating them once they become problematic. You may be able to determine the culprit(s) by keeping a journal of your symptoms and possible allergen exposure, but for a more definitive answer, ask your allergist to conduct tests to uncover which substances cause your allergies.
Once you know your allergy triggers, work with your doctor to devise a plan to avoid them. If you react to pollen, consider staying inside during the first part of the morning and the late afternoon, when pollen counts are usually highest. Check the local weather report for pollen counts before you head out the door so you can take extra precautions if necessary. And remember, even if you plant “allergy-friendly” trees and shrubs in your yard, you’re still at risk of exposure; pollen can travel hundreds of miles.
If mold is to blame for your allergy symptoms, you should also take steps to reduce exposure outdoors, especially during summer months, when mold growth is most common. Since mold grows readily in dense greenery and dead leaves, keep a well-trimmed lawn, free of collected leaves or other vegetation. Wear a protective mask when you do outdoor chores, and consider staying inside after a heavy rain, which can boost mold counts.
Keep outdoor allergens out
It’s important to keep outdoor allergens out of your house, too. Especially when pollen counts are high, change clothes when you come inside so you don’t bring it into the house, and take a shower before bed. Maintain a regular cleaning and vacuuming schedule to keep your furniture, flooring and air clean. Leave your windows and doors closed and invest in HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters for your ventilation system and vacuum to filter out allergens. If you react to mold, use a dehumidifier to discourage mold growth indoors.
Avoid allergy triggers
Of course, you may not always be able to avoid your allergy triggers. But don’t worry; there are many treatment options available. Over-the-counter antihistamines relieve an itchy, runny nose and watery eyes and decongestants can help clear congestion caused by allergies. Some patients also find relief by using a saline nasal spray or rinse. If you still find yourself suffering through symptoms, though, talk to your doctor. You may benefit from prescription nasal sprays or eye drops or immunotherapy (also known as allergy shots). Just don’t wait until symptoms are unbearable; allergy symptoms are much easier to control if you start treatment at the first signs.
Make sure you’re able to enjoy the warm, sunny California spring and summer. Talk to your allergist to make a plan to control your seasonal allergy symptoms this year.