For those living in Southern California, allergy season may be worse this year thanks to one of the wettest winters on record. As trees, weeds, and grasses blossom throughout the state, Californians with pollen allergies should prepare for a rough spring. The total pollen count is expected to be higher than usual in 2023 and may last at least six months of the year.
Allergies are also known as hay fever and impact over 50 million Americans every year. In fact, 80% of seasonal allergy sufferers report moderate-to-severe symptoms that significantly impair their quality of life. Typical symptoms include itchy or watery eyes, sneezing, and stuffy noses. Although pollen levels are still at moderate levels for now, it is still early. Doctors with allergy patients typically start seeing patients with serious seasonal allergies near the end of April, but many are already busy now.
So what can people with allergies do to get through the 2023 allergy season? Keep reading to learn more!
Reducing Exposure to Allergens
One of the simplest ways to avoid unwanted allergy symptoms is to cut down on how often you are exposed to allergens in the first place. This may look like trying to stay indoors when peak pollen counts are at their highest, typically between 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. during the day. Wearing a mask can also help block allergen particles for those that do have to go outside. Standard surgical masks filter particles bigger than 3 micrometers, and N95 respirators can filter particles as small as .04 micrometers.
Vacuum Your Home Often
Vacuuming often can help you reduce the number of pollen particles, pet dander, and dust mites that enter your home. These devices are also helpful in keeping these small particles from blowing back into the air. Wear a mask while vacuuming if you have serious allergies or want to avoid inhaling particles during the process. If you’re pressed for time, you can even purchase a robot vacuum that works frequently to keep floors tidy.
Keeping Your Bedroom Allergen Free
Before going to bed, try to ensure that allergens are kept out of your room. For example, taking a bedtime shower can help ensure pollen isn’t brought into the bed from your skin and hair. If your cat or dog regularly goes out of the house, you may want to keep them out of your bedroom at night. Pet fur can harbor pollen and introducing it into your sleeping environment can make it difficult to get a good night’s rest. You can also wash any throw rugs in hot water every week to get rid of pet dander, pollen, and other allergy particles. If your room has carpeting, replacing it with tile or wood floors can help in reducing allergens at home as well.
Use Air Conditioning
To avoid letting in outdoor winds that carry pollen, it is a good idea to use indoor air conditioning during allergy season. For the same reason, try to keep your doors and windows closed so pollen doesn’t drift in throughout the day. Purchasing and using an air purifier can also be very helpful in keeping the air in your home allergen-free.
Try Allergy Medication
For people with mild seasonal allergy symptoms, over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines can be helpful for the outdoors. These OTCs block the symptom-causing substances released by your body when in contact with an allergen.
Second-generation antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Allegra, and Claritin are less likely to make you drowsy than older antihistamines. You can always buy their generic versions as well. If a particular OTC doesn’t work well for you, try a different kind. For those with persistent symptoms, nasal sprays could help improve symptoms related to stuffy noses.
As you can see, there are many great ways to cut down on allergy exposure. Staying indoors when pollen levels are high and wearing a mask when outdoors can be quite helpful. When indoors, keep your home environment free of outdoor allergens as much as possible by maintaining clean floors and protecting air quality. Allergy medication can also help those experiencing mild symptoms and looking for relief.