It’s spring, and the only thing getting in the way of you enjoying the warm weather is your allergies. Seasonal allergies can interfere with all aspects of everyday life, and flare-ups can make allergy sufferers miserable. If you don’t like popping pills all the time or your allergy medication isn’t quite cutting it, you can take steps to manage your allergy symptoms naturally and reduce your exposure to the allergens.
Spring allergy management is always more effective if you know what triggers your symptoms. Every season brings different primary allergens, and spring allergies typically strike anywhere from January through May in the United States, depending on your region. Check your local allergy map for further details on exactly what’s in the air at any given time, and then check out these tips that can make your life a little easier with fewer allergy symptoms.
Indoor allergen reduction
Spring has its own lovely set of indoor allergens, plus it’s really easy to track outdoor allergens all through your house. It’s impossible to keep everything outside. Allergens such as mold, dust and pollen come into the house on your hair, clothes and shoes. Indoor dust and pet dander reach all-time highs during the spring season, and spring winds force even more air into the house and kick up anything that might be harmlessly out of the air.
Dust everything thoroughly
After a long winter shut against the cold, take the opportunity to refresh your indoor spaces and reduce allergens at the same time. Dust every possible hard surface with a damp rag or micro-fiber cloth, rinsing regularly, to help trap particles without throwing them into the air.
Change filters and clean ducts
Every filter in your house needs to be cleaned or changed. Start with the vacuum filter, and then make your way through any heating/air conditioning filters. For best results, use HEPA air filters or machines with a double-filtration system to trap even the smallest particles of dust and dander.
Forced-air heating and cooling systems have ductwork. This ductwork is one of the most neglected parts of yearly maintenance in most homes, and many people don’t even realize that it needs to be done. Make sure the intakes and vents are clear of debris. If you have a shop vac, take off vent covers and vacuum as far into the ductwork as you can. You may need to contact a professional for complete ductwork cleaning.
Give all fabric and upholstery a deep clean
Upholstered furniture and cloth curtains catch an unbelievable amount of potential allergens throughout the year. Remove and wash the covers of your couch cushions, if possible. Vacuum and surface clean the arms, back and sides of the furniture to remove any additional debris.
Your carpet is a huge allergen-catching culprit, especially if you have pets. Consider getting the carpet professionally cleaned, or rent a professional carpet cleaner to root out allergens throughout the entire carpet. In areas with high humidity, make sure the carpet is thoroughly air-dried immediately after the clean – wet carpets may just encourage mold. Dry clean options may also work well for your home.
Do yearly checks and plumbing maintenance
Mold and mildew thrive in damp conditions, so leaks in your pipes that lead to standing water can also lead to horrible allergy attacks. In addition, dripping water can attract mice, which bring more allergens and potentially serious diseases with them. Check all exposed pipe regularly for signs of corrosion, leaking or other damage.
Reducing outdoor allergens
You can’t avoid contact with the outside, especially if you have a garden or planted yard. Airborne allergens are nearly impossible to eliminate when you’re outside, but you can limit your direct exposure to common allergens. When you’re gardening, raking, mowing the lawn or doing other tasks that bring you into direct contact with these allergens, wear a pair of sturdy gloves and a long-sleeved shirt. If your allergies are really bad, consider wearing a filtered respiration mask while you’re doing these tasks.
Outdoor allergens often get dragged indoors. Leave your shoes at the front door or in an entryway or mud room. Try to leave jackets, gloves, hats and other outerwear as close to the front door as possible, and over tile or wood instead of carpeting. Keep wet wipe in the same area if you have a dog – a quick wipe-down of the dog’s fur and feet can significantly reduce the amount of allergens coming inside. As an added bonus, it limits how much mud or dead leaves your dog will track all over the house, and helps remove loose hair and dander. Finally, try to keep your windows closed on breezy days.
Use allergy medicine before a bad attack
It’s a lot harder to knock out symptoms after you get them than it is to prevent them entirely. If you take allergy medication, try to take it before the onset of symptoms. Pay attention to the allergy forecasts in your area, and take medicine at the beginning of the day when there’s a high-concentration warning for an allergen to which you react even if you don’t feel the effects yet.
Research available preventative measures
Believe it or not, it is possible to reduce or eliminate seasonal allergies. People who suffer severe allergy symptoms can benefit from allergy shots, which may offer semi-permanent relief. A common school of thought is that some allergies can be relieved through inoculation, such as by taking oral pills that contain inhalant allergens. Seasonal allergies are a reaction to an otherwise harmless substance, so such inoculation may help “teach” your immune system that it doesn’t need to fight those particles. One popular home remedy is to regularly consume raw honey that was produced in the same area where you experience seasonal allergies as a form of inoculation.
While it is often impossible to completely avoid allergies, these management tips may help make the season more tolerable so you can get out and enjoy spring.