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Managing Seasonal Allergies

Did you know that in some parts of the United States, spring allergies start as early as February? When we have mild winter temperatures some plants pollinate early, causing you to experience those all-too-familiar symptoms earlier than you expected. In addition, more than two-thirds of people with spring allergies actually have symptoms year-round.Seasonal allergic rhinitis, more commonly referred to as hay fever, affects approximately 8% of the U.S. population. Allergens such as pollen are harmless, but the immune system mistakenly identifies them as intruders in people with allergies. The immune system responds to the “intruder” by releasing histamine and chemical mediators. This causes symptoms such as sneezing, watery or itchy eyes, and stuffy nose.There are several simple steps you can take to control your symptoms if you suffer from allergies. Many news and weather websites list pollen and mold counts during allergy season, so it may help to monitor this information on a daily basis. Keep your doors and windows closed in both your home and your car, and try to stay indoors in the afternoon when pollen counts are highest.Take extra care when mowing the lawn or doing any type of landscaping; you may need to take an over-the-counter allergy medication beforehand (check with your doctor first). When you’re done working outside, take a shower when you come indoors – if you have pollen in your hair, it could trigger your symptoms for the rest of the day and through the night until it’s washed out.If you are not able to manage your symptoms with these measures, talk to your primary care provider about other options. He or she may refer you to an allergist, who can determine which allergens affect you the most – it could be more than pollen, or something entirely different. Together with your provider, you can find a way to manage your seasonal allergies and enjoy being outdoors.

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