The number 44 holds a special significance on the Syracuse University campus, and in true University fashion, 44 children in the City of Syracuse will soon receive new beds and bedding—some for the first time—through a project that has touched…
Tips for Managing Your Spring (Achoo!) Allergies
What’s up with you?
It’s likely you’re suffering from outdoor seasonal allergies.
In the Syracuse-Central New York region, a place regularly cited as fairly high on the nation’s list of areas worst for allergy sufferers, we’ve just finished peak season for spring allergies. This usually runs from April through mid-June, though symptoms can linger longer for some. Still, there’s no need to suffer when there are simple ways to manage your symptoms and at least get some relief, says LeeAnne Lane, R.N., nurse manager at the Barnes Center at The Arch.
The simplest way to avoid having allergy symptoms is to avoid your allergy triggers, says Lane. However, it’s very hard to avoid pollen, which can be everywhere this time of year.
You can’t live your whole life indoors, but these tactics can help you get through allergy season:
- Don’t hang laundry outside. Pollen can easily cover it, and when you put those clothes on, you’re wearing all that!
- If you’ve been working or playing outside, change your clothes and take a shower once you’ve come back in.
- If grass cutting worsens your symptoms, don’t be outside when your neighbor is mowing the lawn and wait for a few hours before going outside.
- Wear sunglasses. They offer a barrier to circulating pollens when you’re outside. (They’ll also disguise your red, itchy allergy eyes and mean less explaining you might have to do.)
- Consider wearing a mask outside. (Yes, really!) This step can truly help block allergens, Lane says, so for those with severe allergies, it is worth doing.
If you can’t avoid triggers, you don’t have to just suck it up. There are some simple ways for you to manage your symptoms.
- Some people opt to use over the counter or prescription medications. These typically include antihistamines. Your pharmacist can offer information on which ones might work best for you and those to avoid regarding interactions with other medications.
- Thinking about taking Benadryl? Better think ahead, says Lane. This antihistamine tends to make users sleepy—so it’s a better option for bedtime.
- Eye drops (regular and those made specifically for allergy symptoms) can help alleviate the red, itchy-eye thing. (That doesn’t help much if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like to—or has a true aversion to—putting anything in their eyes.)
- Others may choose to see allergy specialists, undergo allergy testing or take on a series of allergy shots to desensitize their systems to specific allergens.
While we can’t control Mother Nature, you can have some impact on how much of the outdoors you let get inside.
- Are cars awash with veils of yellow-green pollen powder and are the trees shedding? That’s not the time to open your windows, Lane says.
- Avoid environments that bother you (i.e., don’t go for a walk near a field of goldenrod if you’ve got a goldenrod—or ragweed—allergy.)
- Be aware of the pollen count. Check the weather so you know which days are better to remain indoors.
- Check the clock. Pollen counts are higher earlier in the morning, get lower as the day goes on, then drop overnight. Plan outdoor activities.
- Use air conditioning. In your car, the “internal air circulation” cuts down on pollen entering your vehicle. Air conditioning your indoor space can help ease symptoms too, especially if you have a whole-house system. Window air conditioning units still pull air in from the outdoors, and while they’re helpful, you must maintain them, clean them well and regularly change the filters.
During allergy season, when your body is already reacting to allergens, it’s especially important to keep your immunity up. “We generally recommend your ability to fight illness or other types of infections, viral or other, by eating properly, staying well hydrated, sleeping a good amount each day. These steps can help control your inflammatory process,” says Lane.
A Second Thought
Then again, what if your allergic symptoms aren’t just allergies?
Several of the same types of symptoms could potentially signal that you’re actually COVID-positive. This spring, a subvariant of the virus generated the same kind of issues: runny nose, sneezing, cough—so if the symptoms you’re experiencing don’t align fully with those of allergies, you might want to take a COVID test. Red, watery, itchy eyes can differentiate whether what you have is allergies rather than COVID, and if you’ve got a fever, that factor may also indicate more than simply an allergic reaction.
“COVID confuses things,” Lane says. “It’s easier to write it off as allergies when that’s part of your normal annual thing every April and May.”
To rule out COVID and be safest, Lane says, you can always get tested.
Note: While the University discontinued on-campus COVID testing as of May 23 for the summer, faculty and staff are now encouraged to seek testing from their doctor’s office or another community provider. And as a reminder, tips on COVID precautions and safety can be found on the Stay Safe site, and free government-provided testing kits are available.