Fight spring allergies with our top 10 tips
Do your allergies flare up the second the sun comes out? With temperatures reaching 24 degrees in London and some parts of the UK today, it's bad news for allergy sufferers, who may be forced to stay indoors or dose up on antihistamines to prevent allergies from ruining their fun! If you're one of the millions of people who suffer from allergies in the UK, the good news is that you're not alone and there are plenty of things you can to to ease your symptoms, other than holing up indoors and missing out on all that vitamin D! Here are our top 15 tips for fighting spring allergies - try one, or try them all!
#1. Find the cause of your allergies
It's important to identify what is causing your allergies - for many of us who suffer most during the spring and summer, pollen or even certain crops and weeds could be to blame. For others, it could be mould or even pet dander. Have an allergy test at your doctors to find out what's causing your symptoms, as then you can fight your allergies and feel better!
#2. Use over the counter medication
An anti-histamine such as Benadryl or Piriteze can be taken every morning (or at lunchtime) to relieve your symptoms. Whilst these can be expensive to buy, if you shop around rather than just picking them up on your weekly shop, you're sure to find 3 for 2 offers or discounts.
#3. Try nasal rinses and sprays
If you suffer from sinus pain and congestion and your over the counter meds don't seem to be cutting it, try addressing the problem directly with a saline nasal rinse or decongestant nasal spray. These shouldn't be used if you have high blood pressure, so if you have any existing health conditions, you should check with your GP first. Nasal rinses flush out allergies and clear congestion, and if the standard versions aren't providing you with relief, your doctor may be able to prescribe a corticosteroid nasal spray, for short-term use.
#4. Treat allergies early
Don't wait until the sun is shining and the pollen count is high to start taking your antihistamines. Take action to control your symptoms early and you can prevent your body from creating an anti-inflammatory response to allergens. If you suffer from allergies every spring, start taking your antihistamines in February or March to keep your symptoms under control and you'll find you're far less likely to feel miserable come the sunny weather!
#5. Control your environment
Nobody is suggesting you should stay indoors - going for that morning run in the sunshine or doing some gardening does wonders for your mood, and for your health. But you should take steps to protect yourself if you're going to be working outdoors - such as wearing a paper mask or respirator mask if you're going to be mowing the lawn or washing the car. Taking your allergy medication at least a few hours before you head out gives it time to start working, so you're less likely to feel unwell later.
#6. Have a flexible schedule
Try not to be a control freak when it comes to enjoying the spring sunshine - we know the UK doesn't always have the greatest weather, but keep an eye on the pollen count and plan your outdoor activities accordingly. Choose days where the pollen count is low and there's not much wind - scorching yet windy days are the worst for your allergies. You'll find apps available to monitor pollen count, if you have a smartphone, and these can send you useful alerts and reminders if you're not the organised type!
#7. Address allergens in your home
Even keeping your windows closed in sunny weather doesn't keep all allergens out of your home, and most of us want to let in the fresh air when the sun is shining. Invest in a HEPA air filter and a filter for your vacuum to help filter circulating allergens from inside your home. Try to avoid using humidifiers or vapourisers as these can actually create more problems than they solve, encouraging dust mites and mould growth.
#8. Try the neti pot
We're a huge fan of natural remedies and alternative therapies, so if sinus pain and congestion is a real problem, we recommend trying the neti pot. Neti pots come from Ayurvedic medicine and have been used for centuries to provide relief. For nasal or sinus irritation and relief from allergies, neti pots use salt water to thin mucus and flush out your nasal passages. They take a while to get used to and practice makes perfect, but once you have used your neti pot for a few days, you can cut back to three times a week. This can help to prevent sinus pain, congestion and headaches associated with allergies, so you can get on with your life (1)!
#9. Try acupuncture
Acupuncture can be used to treat a range of conditions and address imbalances in the body, and many people swear by it as a treatment for allergies - althought there's little clinical evidence to support this. The American Academy of Medical Acupunture recommends acupuncture as 'an excellent complement to routine care for moderate allergic sinusitis' (2), and regular acupuncture treatments in conjunction with over the counter or prescribed medication could help to relieve symptoms.
#10. See an allergist
If all else fails and you really don't fancy missing out on your weekly fitness bootcamp at the park because of your streaming eyes and runny nose, why not see an allergist? Sometimes, over the counter medications can stop working, and an allergist may be able to prescribe medication which works better for you. They can test your blood for antibodies and may ask you to keep an 'allergy diary' - this could rule out allergies caused by diet and help to identify exactly what's causing your symptoms. Prescribed allergy medications can include intranasal antihistamines - these are fast-acting and control congestion better than over the counter medication, so they can help you to get a good night's sleep. Antihistamine eye drops are also great to relieve problems with your sight such as wateriness, itchiness, redness and swelling caused by allergies.
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