Dr. Mitch Shulman: How to cope with seasonal allergies

Pollen counts are typically highest in the early morning hours between 5 and 10 a.m. so you might want to avoid being outside then.

Whether it’s a reaction to grass, trees, ragweed or any one of a score of other spring and summer time seasonal triggers, for some of us this time of year can be sheer misery. At the core, your body’s immune system is reacting to something that it should be ignoring. Once you’re exposed, you develop the runny eyes, blocked nose, sneezing, coughing and congestion. Here are some ways you can help to reduce the impact of your seasonal allergies:

1) Keep your house and car windows closed during the pollen season. Clean the air filters on your air conditioning and use it.

2) Stay indoors and limit your outside activities when the pollen counts are high. There are a number of on-line sources for that information.

3) Don’t cut the grass yourself and stay away from areas where the grass has just been cut if an allergy to grass pollen is your main trigger.

4) If you’ve been outdoors doing work on the garden etc., wash off and change your clothes so you don’t bring the pollen home with you. You may need to shower to get all the pollen out.

5) Your pets can bring pollen in with them. You might want to limit their time outside or restrict it to areas where there is less pollen around.

6) As lovely as laundry smells and feels when it’s been drying outdoors, it will carry pollen in with it and so your sheets, towels, bed covers and clothes should not be hung outside to dry.

7) Pollen counts are typically highest in the early morning hours between 5 and 10 a.m. so you might want to avoid being outside then.

At the end of the day, many of us will still need medication on top of all the above to control our symptoms but following these simple guidelines will help.

Dr. Mitch Shulman is an Assistant Professor, Dept. of Surgery, McGill Medical School and an Attending Physician, Emergency Department, McGill University Health Centre. He’s also the CJAD AM 800 Medical Consultant.

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