If there’s one time of year arguably most anticipated by Minnesotans, it’s springtime. After enduring a seemingly endless eternity of arctic, Ice Age-like winter, temperatures begin to rise, snow finally starts to melt and flowers begin to bloom.
Unfortunately, there’s a flip side to this annual period of renewal, and that’s dealing with pesky, seasonal spring allergies. You know the signs: sinus congestion, sneezing, runny, stuffy or itchy noses (or sometimes a combo of all three), coughing and itchy or watery eyes, among other challenging, telltale signs.
While seasonal allergies are prevalent all year round, they can be treated and managed. Here’s how to keep them at bay and give yourself some springtime relief.
Common Minnesota Allergy Triggers
The top three environmental triggers responsible for Minnesota allergies in spring are mold, grass and pollen, which begin to take effect as soon as the season and weather begins to change.
During spring, mold — although constantly present indoors and out — affects allergy sufferers more than any other season, since this is the time of year when they release spores (their seeds) into the air. Old leaves from the prior autumn and winter are often the culprit.
Minnesota is known and loved for its panoply of lush trees throughout the state, but some varieties like oak, poplar, hickory, walnut and ash are well known to release pollen into the air.
And flowers, though a pretty sight, can also produce an abundance of pollen that, in tandem with those released by trees and grass, are hard to avoid when airborne. (Chamomile, daisies, goldenrod and chrysanthemums are considered worse than other blooms for their pollen content.)
What’s worse is that on particularly windy days, mold, pollen and other airborne allergens become harder to avoid than on calm days — or especially rainy ones, suppressing allergens to provide temporary relief.
Managing Spring Allergies
With some lifestyle modifications and self care, you can manage spring allergies in Minnesota:
Avoid Allergy Triggers
While it’s not always possible to avoid all your allergy triggers, there are some steps you can take to minimize your exposure. Try to stay indoors during peak pollen times, usually in the morning and evening. If you do go outside, wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes, and change your clothes when you come back inside. Showering and washing your hair before bed can also help remove pollen from your body without tracking it into other areas of your home.
Keep Your Home Clean
Since spring allergens can easily find their way into your home — even by taking the above precautions — it’s important to keep your living space clean and free of allergens. Use a HEPA filter in your vacuum cleaner to trap pollen and dust, and wash your bedding in hot water at least once a week. Keep your windows closed during high pollen days and use an air conditioner instead. You can also invest in an air purifier to help filter out allergens.
Manage Your Medications
There are several over-the-counter and prescription medications available to help manage seasonal allergies, including:
- Antihistamines: Choose sedating (Benadryl) before bedtime and non-sedating (Claritin) at the start of the day, since the former can make you drowsy, and the latter, alert.
- Nasal corticosteroids: Non-prescription nasal sprays such as Flonase reduce inflammation of nasal passageways triggered by allergens.
- Decongestants: As their name suggests, decongestants such as Sudafed work to undo congestion you might feel, narrowing blood vessels in your nose when it’s particularly stuffy or runny.
You might even try some natural remedies, such as saline nasal sprays or eating local honey to desensitize your body to pollen. It’s important to start taking medication before your symptoms start to kick in, so be proactive in managing your allergies.
Enjoy an Allergy-Free Season
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find the best option for you based on your symptoms and medical history. They’ll be able to recommend an allergy specialist, where an allergy skin test can determine your allergy triggers, which allergens may cause you to react, and the best course of treatment, like regular allergy injections or prescription/non-prescription medications.
Richfield Medical Group is happy to help you along your journey to preventing allergies and staying allergy free. Start managing your allergies today with our help by contacting us for an appointment.