6 reasons to be optimistic about an early allergy season

Warmer-than-normal temperatures in January and February have lots of people doing happy dances about being able to play outside. Meanwhile, allergy sufferers are dreading the onslaught of symptoms caused by longer days and an earlier season.

But all is not lost. There’s hope in sight that this allergy season won’t be labeled “the worst season ever,” as it has been the past few years. Here are some things you might not have heard yet that may give you reason to be optimistic:

1. While it’s true that pollen levels are higher when the air is dry, warm and windy, it’s also true that any rain we get will help clean the air. And if the colder temperatures return, then pollen production will stop.

[See: 8 Surprising Facts About Asthma and Seasonal Allergies.]

2. Even if pollen counts are high, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will be affected. There is pollen from many different kinds of trees, and in some areas, grasses in the air. A high overall pollen count doesn’t always indicate a strong concentration of the specific pollen to which you’re allergic. (The opposite can be true, too: The pollen count might be low, but you might find yourself around one of the pollens that triggers your allergies.) An allergist can test you and determine exactly what you’re allergic to in the air.

3. It’s a little hard to predict if the early pollen means more suffering later in the spring. “Priming” can occur when unseasonably warm temperatures cause an early release of pollen from trees. That triggers symptoms because once allergy sufferers are exposed to this early pollen, their immune system is “primed” to react to the allergens. But if most of the pollen appears in February, the levels may not be as high later in spring and could result in fewer symptoms.

4. There are ways to combat the early spring allergy symptoms. Keep the windows to your house and car closed so pollen doesn’t come into your living space. If you’ve been working outside, remove your clothes immediately upon coming in, and shower with shampoo. At the very least, shampoo and shower before bed so you don’t transfer pollen to your pillows and sheets. Stay indoors in the early morning hours between 5 and 10 a.m. when levels are highest. Remember pets can carry pollen on their coats, so keep animals clean and out of your bed.

[See: Is it Healthy to Sleep With Your Pets?]

5. Use your allergy medications daily, including eye medications. They work best as prevention prior to and during the season, and not “as needed” for symptoms. The pollen you’re seeing now can cause eye problems such as watery, itchy eyes and redness. Wear glasses outside, especially sunglasses. There are over-the-counter and prescription allergy eye drops. Don’t wear contact lenses until symptoms resolve.

6. Discuss immunotherapy (allergy shots) with your allergist. Allergy shots are the only treatment that can lead to tolerance or loss of symptoms over time. This is also the only treatment available that actually changes the immune system, making it possible to prevent the development of new allergies and asthma.

[See: 7 Lifestyle Tips to Manage Your Asthma.]

If you think you might be one of the more than 50 million Americans who suffer from allergy and asthma, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology can help you find an allergist in your area. For more information about the diagnosis and treatment of allergies and asthma, visit AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.

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8 Surprising Facts About Asthma and Seasonal Allergies

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6 Reasons to Be Optimistic About an Early Allergy Season originally appeared on usnews.com

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