this area in springtime, pollen counts can soar. The usual culprits for springtime hay fever are oak, sycamore, maple, elm and birch, with hickory, poplar and walnut rounding out the list of common triggers. The small pollen cells these trees produce are light and dry, so they can be carried far and wide by spring breezes. Thus, you don’t even need to live in a heavily wooded area to feel the effects of spring pollen. While you might be tempted to move to another climate to avoid the misery of spring allergies, experts warn that approach usually isn’t successful – allergens are virtually everywhere. But there are steps you can take to get some relief from your symptoms. • Limit time outdoors: With the help of your doctor, learn which pollens you’re sensitive to, and then monitor pollen counts. In spring and summer, pollen levels are typically highest in the evening, so try to exercise or garden early in the day. If you must head outdoors, arm yourself with glasses or sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes and a filter mask for gardening or cutting grass. • Take allergy medication: Oral antihistamines, available over the counter, block your body’s response to allergens. Some may provide relief
in as little as an hour, but others could require a few days to build up in your system. Nasal sprays can also provide relief, but, again, it may be several days before you notice improvement. If you have a history of seasonal allergies, start medications about two weeks before you expect pollen counts to explode. If you experience more severe allergies which don’t respond to these medicines, allergy shots could be the answer. These contain a tiny amount of the pollen, to expose you over time to gradual increments of your allergen, so your body learns to tolerate it. • Turn your home into a castle: Keep windows and doors closed, and use an air conditioner equipped with allergy filters to cool your home, instead of a fan, which pulls air into your home from outdoors. Clean floors with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. Leave your shoes at the door, and ask guests to do the same. Take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes if you’ve been working or playing outdoors. Don’t wait for spring allergies to wreak havoc with your head this year. The more you know about protecting yourself – and the sooner you start taking steps to curtail your misery – the better you can stop your suffering at the source.
SPRING 2017 | HEALTHY IN NEWTON