Ways to beat spring allergy symptoms in the D.C. metro area

WASHINGTON — It’s the time of year when people begin the battle against spring allergies — and the D.C. area is particularly vulnerable, according to a local doctor.

The season is getting late start, but it is shaping up to be another rough year for those who suffer with allergies, says Dr. Rachel Schreiber, an allergist at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Montgomery County, Md.

“Unfortunately, this is really just the tip of the iceberg,” Schreiber says of the already-present allergens.

The D.C. area — which recently ranked No. 67 on a list of the worst cities for allergies — has been known to induce allergies symptoms for those who have never experienced them, Schreiber says.

“We certainly see adults come in who have never had allergies, who develop it and sometimes people say ‘I lived in whatever state or whatever country, I came to Washington and, boom, I got allergies.’ I hear that story all the time,” she says.

It’s not uncommon for people to gain or lose allergies in their lifetimes. Also, people who are prone to allergies, can become allergic to things from which they haven’t suffered in the past — no matter where they live, Schreiber says.

So how do you know when you suffer from seasonal allergies?

Allergy symptoms can include sneezing, swollen eyes and rashes, but allergies can trigger more serious conditions such as asthma, so people need to pay attention to their bodies, she says.

“We range from having symptoms that are basically a nuisance to having symptoms that can really be much more severe,” Schreiber says.

Other symptoms can include congestion and an itchy, runny nose, according to the Mayo Clinic.

But there is good news for controlling allergies. Starting allergy medications early in the season can help reduce symptoms, Schreiber says.

The Mayo Clinic offers the following tips to reduce seasonal allergies:

  • Stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after it rains, which helps clear pollen from the air.
  • Don’t hang laundry outside. Pollen can stick to sheets, towels and clothing.
  • Delegate lawn mowing and other gardening chores that can stir up allergens.
  • Pay attention to pollen forecasts and current pollen levels and try to reduce outdoor time when the levels are high.
  • Keep indoor air clean by using the air conditioning in your house and car. Also, keep indoor air dry with a dehumidifier.

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