April showers might bring May flowers, but many of us are well aware that they can also bring tree and grass pollen and other allergens that can cause us to wheeze, sneeze and sniffle our way through spring.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), springtime allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to an environmental side effect of seasonal plant pollination.
While some aren’t affected by the release of these common seasonal allergens, many of us are faced with a line-up of potentially miserable symptoms, including:
Itching of the eyes, nose or roof of the mouth;
Runny nose or nasal congestion;
Watery, red or swollen eyes;
Sore throat and/or cough; or
Fatigue and weakness.
If you find yourself battling these symptoms this spring, there are ways you can help manage them and ease your suffering so that you can enjoy all that this wonderful time of year has to offer.
Know your triggers. The ACAAI says more than two-thirds of spring allergy sufferers actually have year-round symptoms. Those symptoms just aren’t as prevalent in the “off-season.” A family medicine or internal medicine provider can help you determine what is triggering your allergy attacks and develop a care plan to help minimize your symptoms.
Watch the weather. The University of Montana School of Public and Community Health Sciences provides weekly pollen and mold counts. Keeping an eye on this report can help you know what to expect when you head outdoors, as well as if there are certain days or times during which it might be better to remain indoors.
Hit the shower. As simple as it sounds, taking a shower, washing your hair and changing your clothes after outdoor activities can help minimize your exposure to allergens.
Defend yourself. If you know you are going to be outdoors for extended periods, or doing activities like mowing the lawn, consider wearing a mask to help reduce the amount of allergens you inhale. You may also consider taking appropriate, over-the-counter medications before you head out.
If these methods don’t provide the relief you need, talk to your family medicine or internal medicine provider. He or she can help you develop a more thorough allergy management plan, which may include support from an allergist. If you don’t have a primary care provider, call our referral line at (406) 327-4170 to get connected to the right care.
David Croteau, MD, FAAFP
Community Physician Group
Lolo Family Medicine