What is hay fever?
If you find yourself regularly sneezing, tearing up, feeling itchy, and having a stuffy nose, you may be among the 20 million Americans suffering from hay fever which is a nasal allergy. Contrary to what the name suggests, this is of course neither an allergy to hay nor is it likely to trigger a temperature. The medical term for this ailment is allergic rhinitis (more details here).
What causes hay fever?
In a nutshell, hay fever is an allergic reaction to an allergen in the environment. When your body comes into contact with a substance that it identifies as an allergen, it triggers a hypersensitive reaction to fight off the allergen. Common allergens include dust mites, mold spores, pollen, and dander among others.
Hay fever occurs in two forms. In the Phoenix area, most people have the seasonal variety that flares up around spring, and early fall when certain plants bloom. However, others suffer from hay fever year around (perennially) because of the high amounts of pollution and our Arizona pollen count
Considering how much of a nuisance hay fever can be, it is always a good idea to try to nip it in the bud before it sets in. By employing these five tips for preventing hay fever, you will give your body the best chance of getting through the day sneeze-free.
How to prevent hay fever
1. Identify your allergen
What your body considers to be an allergen is unique to you. This same allergen is unlikely to elicit the same hypersensitive reaction in someone else. So, the first step is to identify what exactly triggers the response in you. For example, you may be allergic to one kind of pollen and not another. A quick visit to a certified allergy specialist is the best place to start. They have the right kind of allergy testing that will be able to help you to pinpoint the exact cause of your hay fever.
2. Allergy-proof your home
After you have identified the allergen, the next step is to rid your home of the allergen. For example, if you are allergic to dust mites, you can use mite proof bedding. If you are allergic to animal fur, it may be advisable to have pets stay out of the house altogether.
During high pollen seasons, keep your windows shut and always air condition your house. Keep your kitchen cabinets dry to prevent mold. It is also recommended to avoid drying clothes outside during high pollen seasons and to avoid bringing fresh flowers into the house.
3. Avoid the outdoors during high pollen seasons
This one can be somewhat tough at times, but if possible, you should try to avoid being outside during high pollen seasons. Ideally, you could have a friend or neighbor take care of your outdoor tasks. If you do have to go out, wearing sunglasses over your eyes, and a light scarf over your mouth and nose will keep pollen from entering your body.
When you do return to your home, you should take a shower to get rid of any pollen you might have carried in on your skin that may trigger an overnight attack.
4. Give your immune system a boost
Eat healthy, exercise (always good advice!) and consult your physician for immune boosting medications and supplements. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist. A clinic like ours employs doctors who are specially trained to look at your unique symptoms and diagnose the underlying problems which sometimes involve more than just over the counter medications, or allergy tablets. As an example, we often see that our patients are better, and suffer less from allergies by getting immunotherapy injections.
5. Apply a protective gel to your nostrils
Rubbing a small amount of petroleum jelly inside of your nostrils or using nasal sprays that create a coating in your nostrils may prevent pollen from getting past your nostrils. This method is not scientifically proven but is employed worldwide, and many people swear by it.
The symptoms of hay fever can interfere with your daily life. By implementing these five tips, you should be able to reduce the pain and disruption next time around.
Need Allergy Assistance?
If you are interested in getting tested to find out which allergens are causing you problems; or learning more about our allergy testing and treatment services, please call 602-242-4592 for an appointment at one of our 5 Phoenix Metro locations.
The team at Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates, P.C. is eager to help you breathe easier and live life more fully again!