What Causes Seasonal Allergies?
In the spring and summer, trees, grasses and weeds release high amounts of pollen, a common allergen. To fight off the pollen you breathe in, your body releases chemicals, one called histamine. Unfortunately, our bodies typically overcompensate with the release of histamine, and that’s what triggers our runny noses, itchy eyes, and sneezes. Seasonal allergies are also sometimes called hay fever. The most common allergens in the central Ozarks area are pollen and mold. Ragweed is the worst offender of all, producing record amounts of pollen each year. Second on the list is the mountain cedar, found only in Missouri and three other states. Bermuda grass is also a top offender, most commonly found on golf courses and in our parks and lawns. If your symptoms are persistent throughout the year, you might be allergic to something other than pollen.
Ways to Combat Your Sniffles
1. Keep your doors and windows closed.
Prevent pollen from blowing into your home by keeping your doors and windows closed as often as possible. Be sure to wipe down windowsills often after opening to prevent any pollen build-up. Using an air purifier or a dehumidifier will also help keep the air in your home as clean as possible during these months.
2. Stay inside on windy days.
Avoiding pollen is especially difficult on windy days. Keep an eye on your weather forecast and the pollen count and try to stay inside on those dry, windy days. The pollen count is typically highest in the morning. Since Bermuda grass gives off a high amount of pollen, save your golf outing for a calm, post-rain day.
3. Don’t hang your laundry outside.
If you like to hang your laundry outside during the summer months, try to avoid doing so. Hanging your laundry outside allows your clothes to collect pollen and potentially turn yellow. Be sure to always wash your clothes and shower after doing yardwork or spending time outside. The allergen easily collects on your clothes and in your hair.
4. Use a Neti pot or nasal spray.
Nasal saline irrigation is a great way to clear your clogged nasal passages. Many people report that using a Neti pot helps alleviate congestion and facial pressure. Nasal spray decongestants are a great alternative to using a Neti pot.
5. Take an antihistamine.
Antihistamines reduce and block the extra release of histamines in your body. Newer antihistamines have fewer side effects than older kinds, so when purchasing over the counter, avoid older brands. The main side effect of an antihistamine is drowsiness, so be aware when taking this medicine and try to take it before bed. As always, talk to your doctor at the Lake of the Ozarks to make sure it is safe for you to take an antihistamine.
Try one of these tips, or try all of them! Now that you understand what’s going on outside, hopefully you will have an easier time combatting your dreaded allergies and making the best of this season. If your allergy symptoms are still persisting, don’t hesitate to give Central Ozarks Medical Center a call. We have several conveniently located health clinics at the Lake of the Ozarks in Richland, Camdenton and Osage Beach. For more information about our locations, visit www.CentralOzarks.org/locations.html. Stay safe and comfortable this summer!
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