It’s still chilly out, but now is the time to start thinking about spring, particularly spring allergies.
“Very few people will begin experiencing symptoms right now, but it’s not a bad idea for patients who suffer from allergies to begin treatment in March,” explains Charles Gawthrop, MD, otolaryngologist at Paoli Hospital.
Although allergy sufferers could be at risk for early symptoms any year, Dr. Gawthrop says that the change in pollen levels from up-and-down temperatures in recent years have increased the likelihood that sniffling and sneezing may begin a few weeks early.
To minimize allergy-related ear, nose, and throat irritation, Dr. Gawthrop advises patients to begin taking medications before they notice symptoms. Being proactive, he says, is a much better approach to solving these issues than waiting until your immune system is under an allergy attack. Two to three weeks prior to the beginning of spring and allergy season, begin using a nasal spray or non-sedating antihistamine to prevent allergy symptoms. Remember to talk to your doctor before starting any regimen.
In addition to medication, late winter and early spring are also good times to avoid allergy triggers. Stick to indoor activities, especially on high-pollen days, and keep windows and doors closed. Shower before going to bed at night to wash any pollen out of your hair or off of your body.
Finally, make sure you do some early spring cleaning.
“Clean out any dusty or potentially moldy areas of your home, like air vents, basements and attics. Spending time indoors won’t be as effective if you haven’t rid your home of allergens,” says Dr. Gawthrop.
If you’ve taken the steps to prevent spring allergies but continue to notice severe symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor, who can recommend a corticosteroid, antihistamine, or decongestant to relieve your symptoms.