Sneezing, congestion and itchy, watery red eyes — seasonal allergies just won't quit. So why are you experiencing such bad symptoms? A single ragweed plant can release up to one million pollen grains per day. Inhaled, they wreak macro-havoc for millions and they're tough to dodge. This light, dry pollen can breeze along for distances up to 400 miles!
But don't grab that antihistamine yet. It's tough, but not impossible, to avoid the pollen that triggers your symptoms. Avoidance is your first line of defense, so try these steps to prevent an allergy outbreak:
1. Know when pollen is at its worst. In general, daytime pollen levels are highest between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., especially when it's dry, warm and breezy. Knowing the pollen count for your area keeps you a step ahead of the sneezes.
2. Exercise indoors when pollen levels are high. Outdoor allergies are no reason to skip your daily workout. At home, dust off the treadmill or take the exercise bike for a spin. You can also hit the gym or walk the mall on days when the air outdoors is full of pollen.
3. Stop pollen at the door. Ragweed pollen — those spiked, air-borne sneeze-balls — stage home invasions by clinging to your clothes, shoes, hair, skin and even your pet's fur. Change clothes when you come indoors. Take a shower and wash your hair. Wipe down or brush off any outdoor pets before letting them inside.
4. Condition your air. Running the AC on recirculate filters up to 90 percent of pollen from the air.
5. Protect your peepers. When pollen counts soar, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Pick a pair with large or wrap-around lenses for best protection. If you have to mow the lawn and do gardening take along a pollen mask, too.
6. Write yourself a stress-less RX. Allergies not only cause anxiety, they can amplify any stressful situation, say researchers from Ohio State University. In one study they noted how allergic reactions boosted the number of stressful flare-ups volunteers experienced. In another, people with seasonal allergies had reactions that were 75 percent stronger when they were tense. Practice a stress-management technique, whether it be progressive muscle relaxation, yoga or mindful meditation.
If these steps to avoid allergens aren't enough, don't sit around and self-diagnose. Work with your doctor or allergist to determine triggers, find relief and then come back and read this again.