Allergy season in Colorado is in full swing. Another long winter has passed, but many still find themselves stuck indoors in fear of the havoc springtime allergens can wreak.
Fighting seasonal allergies in Colorado isn't an exact science, but there are some steps you can take to find some relief. Knowing your triggers, monitoring outdoor air quality, and maintaining indoor air quality are the most important things to consider when allergy season arrives. Give yourself an upper-hand with these tips from online experts!
Reduce Your Risk
Reducing exposure to your allergy triggers, unsurprisingly, is the best way to take control of your seasonal allergies, according to The Mayo Clinic. Avoid outdoor activity during dry windy days, when dust and pollen is blowing about, and any time pollen counts are high. MC also recommends monitoring pollen counts in your area on the local news, newspapers, or on forecasting sites like pollen.com. It's best to stay indoors when pollen counts are high, but if avoiding the outdoors isn't an option, wear a face mask and take allergy medicine before your symptoms start.
Keeping your home free of allergens is a never-ending battle, but maintaining indoor air quality will do wonders in providing relief from seasonal allergies. MC says keep windows and doors closed during high pollen count days, and install HEPA filters on your furnace and air conditioner systems. Air purifiers can help maintain healthy indoor air quality too, but make sure your model doesn't emit ozone or another kind of air pollutant. When pollen counts are low — especially after a rainstorm or during the middle of the day — consider flushing out all the air inside your home with a whole house fan or other fresh air intake system. While outside air is where allergens thrive, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates indoor air is 2-5 times more polluted than outside air, even in industrial areas. Replacing stale, recirculated indoor air with fresh air from the outside also removes any lingering viruses, odors, pathogens and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from your home.
Wash It Off
Each time you step outside, your skin, clothes, hair, shoes, etc. collect tiny particles from everywhere you've been. And all those little particles return home with you. Kinda gross to think about, but easily remedied by leaving your shoes at the door, changing your clothes, and taking a quick rinse to wash everything off once you get home. This goes for household pets too — daily baths may be unrealistic for four-legged family members, but giving them a good rinse after an outdoor adventure (or after a good roll in who-knows-what) can help reduce the amount of allergens collected in their fur and brought back into your home.
Your home can never be too clean, especially if your seasonal allergies really beat you down. Consider vacuuming high traffic areas of your home more often, with a HEPA filter-equipped vacuum cleaner that won't spread more particles around your living space. And dust more often too, paying extra attention to the spots where dust can collect like light fixtures, tables, shelves, window sills, and other nooks and crannies. Lastly, WebMD says relying on harsh chemical-based cleaners can actually exacerbate allergy symptoms, and even cause additional irritation. Switching to natural cleaners or those with every-day ingredients like vinegar or baking soda is the best way to go.
No matter what, chances are seasonal allergies will have you down for the count at some point during the season, but being prepared will help mitigate your symptoms. It's important to know what your triggers are. You may think you know what the problem is, but experts agree that pinpointing your triggers with a skin test from an allergist will help you limit your exposure and side effects more effectively. Over-the-counter medications like antihistamines, corticosteroids, nasal sprays and decongestants can help relieve some allergy symptoms, but don't wait until you're suffering to start taking them. Many OTC remedies can be taken before you experience any symptoms, but it's always best to speak to your doctor before long-term use of any medication.
At-home treatments like nasal rinses and steam treatments may offer some relief from nasal decongestion, and natural remedies like hyper-locally produced honey, butterbur, spirulina, and other herbs have shown promise in allergy relief, though there are too few scientific studies to prove their effectiveness. Lastly, MC says studies have shown acupuncture treatments can also be effective, though results have been mixed. Work with your doctors and other allergy treatment professionals to find the best treatment options for you.
Don't succumb to seasonal allergies so easily when there are ways to fight back!