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Allergy Season Preparedness Tips

March 20, 2014

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Fred Allen

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It`s that time when the mounds of winter snow and brutal cold melt away - with the warmth of spring not too far behind. But for allergy sufferers, it`s a sign that allergy season is near - with all its sniffling, sneezing, and general misery.

Unfortunately, allergy symptoms can kick into high gear even before the warm weather starts. Typically it begins as soon as February or March with tree and grass pollen. Other molds, dormant in winter, also begin to reveal themselves during the first thaw in spring, before peaking between late-summer and early-fall.

Here are a few tips that can help you feel better and perhaps keep you away from the doctor`s office:

  • Call to action:
Talk with your provider about the benefits of starting allergy medication early in the season. Non-drowsy antihistamines are preferred, but prescription nasal sprays have become key players in managing nasal allergies. It is recommended they be started one to two weeks prior to when your pollen season starts.

  • Keep pollen out:
Windows and doors, when left open, will not keep tiny pollens and molds from finding their way into your eyes and nose. In addition, it is suggested that running the air conditioner earlier in the year will help clear out some of the stale and stuffy air in your home. In addition to keeping your car windows and sunroof up, it is good practice to adjust your vent to re-circulate inter-compartment air.

  • Time outdoor activities properly:
Avoid activities in the early-and-mid mornings when pollen counts tend to be highest. Stay indoors on dry, windy days. Do go outside after a good rain, which helps clear the pollen from the air. If you must do outdoor chores, wear a protective mask. If re-entering your home, make sure to remove clothes quickly; you may also want to play it extra safe by showering. It will remove the pollen from your skin and hair.

  • Take extra steps when pollen counts are high:
Use your favorite television news station, local newspaper, or digital media for pollen forecasts and pollen levels. If it calls for a high pollen forecast, start taking medications before your symptoms kick in.

  • Just a few "outside-the-box" allergen tips:
If your home has forced air heating or air conditioning, use high efficiency filters and follow regular maintenance schedules. Not only will they extend the life of your HVAC unit, but they more importantly will help eliminate allergens from your home. Keep indoor air dry with a dehumidifier. A HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter is recommended for use, since it is known to trap more than 99.9-percent of particles that are larger than one-third microns; this means far more allergens like pet dander, dust or pollen will be caught than in a standard filter.

Even though there isn`t one particular miracle product that eliminates all allergens from your life, taking a few preventative allergy measures and getting ahead of the game will keep your watery eyes and runny nose away from the doctor`s office.

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Story Image: Pollen from surrounding trees drift onto the water surface at the beginning of spring in this picture. (Frank Vincentz)

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