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How to survive a worse-than-usual allergy season

woman smelling flowers

Allergy sufferers dread hearing the following words: “It’s going to be the worst allergy season ever!” 

So, how is spring 2013 shaking out? Unfortunately, it’s true. This likely will be one the worst allergy seasons to date due to an explosion of powerful pollens brought on by climate change and increased greenhouse gases.  

This means allergy sufferers will endure a double-blow this spring as the pollen season is already here, and will last four weeks longer, into mid-fall. Additionally, since many were exposed to early tree pollens this winter (because it was so mild), we all have to be “re-introduced” to those pollens this spring as the weather warms up. 

This can mean more significant itchiness, sneezing and stuffiness associated with seasonal allergies.  

What does all this mean for you? How can you be pro-active in this pre-allergy season?

To fight allergies, the best defense is a good offense.  Follow these seasonal allergy survival tips to get you ready for the onslaught of pesky pollens about to visit your eyes and nasal passages.  

• Start early. Many allergy medications work best when started before the symptoms begin.

• Know the pollen count. During peak pollen periods, stay inside if you can. Use air conditioning as a weapon – it can help filter out allergy busting pollens.

• Be a 'movie star.' Wear oversized sunglasses to block airborne seasonal pollens and molds from entering your eyes and lids that cause uncomfortable redness, itchiness, watery eyes, and puffiness, too.

• Wear a hat. Preferably a wide-brimmed one.  This will block out pollen, and for extra safety, skip the hair gel and spray. These act like a “pollen magnet,” especially when planning extended periods of time outdoors on high-pollen days.

• Stay clean. By showering nightly, you’ll rinse pollen from your hair and skin to get a good night’s sleep.  Also, change your clothing before entering the bedroom to reduce pollen transfer into your personal “breathable” space.

Dr. Clifford Bassett is an adult and pediatric allergy specialist, and diplomat of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. He is the medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of NY.  Bassett is a clinical assistant professor of medicine and on the teaching faculty of NYU School of Medicine and NYU Langone Medical Center and assistant clinical professor of Medicine and Otolaryngology at SUNY LICH. Follow him on Twitter.