When you have allergies, you know how tough it can be to make it through a spring day — let alone a spring hour.
“Your body’s natural defenses are overreacting to substances that are usually not harmful,” says Dr. Carol G. Baum, an allergist at New York City’s ENT and Allergy Associates, about how allergic reactions start. And lately, as you’ve probably heard, the conditions for these springtime vexations are only getting worse.
“Every year we hear that this is the worst allergy season ever, but I think there is an understanding that with climate change our winters are warmer — and certainly that was the case this year,” Baum says.
“Because of that, the allergy seasons tend to start a little earlier and last a little longer, and also the pollen levels tend to be a little higher.”
Thankfully, you can find comfort amidst the budding trees with these options to help make you breathe a little easier.
Option A: Avoidance Simply put, learn your triggers and get out of their way. “If someone is allergic to pollen, I try to encourage them to run air-conditioning,” Baum says. “If they’re in the car, have the windows closed, run the air-conditioning. I always try to encourage people not to get a home close to a highway where there’s a lot of pollutants. I try to
encourage pets to be out of the home and certainly out of the bedroom — you spend a third of your life sleeping in a bedroom, [and] dander can get into the bedding.”
Option B: Medication “There’s a lot of medications available,” Baum says. “They include oral antihistamines as well as topical antihistamines or steroids that may be applied as sprays to the nose or as drops to the eyes.” The good news is you can find a combination that works best for you.
Option C: Allergy shots Allergen immunotherapy, or allergy shots, exposes your body to allergens in small doses. “You give minute amounts of the allergen very gradually, on a weekly basis, usually over a period of about six months,” Baum says.
“Then they get monthly injections for a period that can run usually between three and five years.”