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Allergy season has arrived

Dione Henry, RN,

Ozark Health Home Care

Approximately one in five people are affected by some type of allergy.The most common allergens are pollen, dust, mold/mildew, and animal saliva or dander.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms often mimic a cold; they can include swelling, hives, and constriction of the airway. In some of these cases, your doctor may order a series of allergy tests. These tests can determine specific allergy triggers you should avoid.

Luckily, there are several things that we can do to treat and prevent allergic reactions. There are several medications available that can treat allergy symptoms once they develop. These include over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal sprays, and prescription-strength medications. A series of allergy injections are also ordered at times.

Always speak with your doctor before starting a new medication, as they can have drug interactions with other medications. You should be extremely cautious with use of over-the-counter nasal sprays. These sprays are effective, but extremely addictive. When used in excess, the nasal spray becomes ineffective, and leads to more nasal congestion. Many nasal sprays are not to be used for more than three consecutive days.

The best practice is to try to avoid your allergy triggers as much as possible. Keep windows closed, even on the most beautiful days. Use air conditioning if you are allergic to dust or pollen. Avoid using fans as they stir up dust.

It is helpful to filter the air as much as possible. Air-conditioning vents can be covered with a layer of cheesecloth to filter out pollen. Air ducts and filters should be cleaned frequently.

Humidity in our homes should be kept at less than 50 percent to prevent mold growth. Dehumidifiers are also helpful in preventing mold growth.

You should remove laundry from the washing machine promptly to prevent growth of mold/mildew. Dry clothes in the dryer, rather than hanging them outside to prevent pollen and dust from clinging to the laundry.

Do not allow smoking in your home or vehicle, as smoke contains many irritants.

As the weather gets nicer, everyone wants to spend more time outside. Avoid going out early in the morning, as pollen counts are higher at that time of day. Wear protective eye wear and a filtering mask when mowing or doing yard work. Be sure to shower and shampoo your hair as soon as you come in from outdoors. This will limit your exposure time to allergens.

If you have pets in your home, be sure to bathe them often. Avoid allowing them to spend time in your bedroom, and do not allow them to sleep with you. Pet hair can be very irritating, and also traps dust, pollen, and other allergens.

You should vacuum twice weekly, and wash throw rugs frequently to prevent dust accumulation. It is a good idea to wash bedding weekly in hot water.

With some planning and practical thinking, you can enjoy time outdoors without suffering all spring.

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