Keep Your Allergies at Bay This Spring

Nathan A Deckard, MD, FAAOA

Nathan A Deckard, MD, FAAOA

Spring’s budding trees and blooming flowers are a welcome sight after the unusually snowy winter in the Philadelphia region. While the sights and smells delight most, there are many people for whom spring means allergy season and the battle against watery eyes, nasal congestion, and sinus pain.

Allergies are triggered by substances called allergens, such as pollen or mold spores. Many trees, grasses, and weeds contain small and light pollen that are easily carried by the wind, causing allergy symptoms to flare up in the spring.

Ten tips to help make this spring a little more enjoyable:

  1. Do a thorough spring cleaning. Throughout the winter, windows, bookshelves, and air conditioning vents collect dust and mold that can provoke allergy symptoms.
  2. Shut windows in your house on days when pollen counts are high. Avoid using windows or fans that may draw pollen inside.
  3. Minimize outdoor activity when pollen counts are high. Pollen is usually highest from 5 to 10 a.m. and at dusk. Pollen counts are also higher on warm, breezy days.
  4. Take allergy medications at least 30 minutes prior to outdoor activity.
  5. Wear a hat to cover your hair.
  6. When you come inside, take a shower to rinse the pollen off your body.
  7. While in the car, set your air conditioner to the “recirculate air” setting.
  8. Watch what you eat! Certain foods can trigger allergies or enhance them during peak times.
    1. For those allergic to grass pollens, you’ll want to avoid:
        • oranges
        • tomatoes
        • melons
        • figs

      As noted above, foods that cause a pollen-like allergic reaction are usually fresh or raw. If you love oranges but notice they cause a reaction, orange juice, although it’s not as nutritiously-dense as an orange, might not cause the reaction. Same thing with tomatoes: Freshly-picked tomatoes from the vine might cause an itchy throat, but tomato paste might not trigger a negative reaction.

    2. If you’re allergic to weed pollens, specifically ragweed, the following foods may trigger oral allergy syndrome (OAS):
        • bananas
        • cantaloupes
        • cucumbers
        • melons
        • zucchini
        • artichokes
        • teas of Echinacea, chamomile, and hibiscus

      If you eat something that triggers allergies, you’ll notice symptoms almost immediately. Most allergists would agree that OAS symptoms appear no more than half an hour after eating.

    3. Some other foods that trigger OAS in more than one type of allergy include:
      • apples
      • almonds
      • celery
      • strawberries
      • cherries
  9. If you have pets, do not allow them on your bed or to sleep with you at night.
  10. If you find over-the-counter medications are not helping you, it might be time to consult with a medical professional who specializes in inhalant allergies and sinus disorders.

Nathan A Deckard, MD, FAAOA, is the Director of Rhinology, ENT Allergy, and Skull-Base Surgery at Cooper. For more information about allergies, click here.

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