Are you one of the more than 50 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies? I sure am. When I lived in Jamaica, I never had allergies. As much as I enjoy the seasons changing here, there are perks to not having an official spring season in the tropics!
This spring has been especially terrible for me. I’ve had nights of sneezing myself awake and days of wanting to claw my eyeballs out because they itch so terribly. Thankfully, after some experimentation, I’ve found a few solutions that work.
If you’re also suffering from terrible seasonal allergies, they might give you some relief as well. Remember: I am not a medical doctor. I’m just sharing what works for me.
Check the Weather
My daily wakeup routine now involves checking the weather. When I do, I’m not checking how hot it’s going to be today. I’m checking the pollen count. If the pollen count is higher than 1,000 in your area and you have bad seasonal allergies, try to limit your exposure.
If it rains, I ignore the pollen count, because rain makes it more difficult for pollen to take flight and make their way into my car or home. If it’s windy, I try to avoid going outside, no matter what the pollen count is.
Wear Face Covers
Because of COVID-19, there are many tutorials online for home-made face masks. I have a balaclava like this that I bought years ago to cover my nose and mouth in cold temperatures. It works just as well for pollen protection during the springtime.
If you do a quick search for “pollen masks,” you’ll also find some interesting products like the one worn by the guy in the photo above. They look like they belong in the Mortal Kombat video game. I confess: I’ve bought three! Not a single one of them have arrived yet, but I look forward to using them. If you choose to buy any, ensure they are washable.
For every year but this one, antihistamines did wonders for me. Not only did they help with the itchy and watery eyes; they also let me sleep like a baby at night. This was an easy win-win situation. If you need daytime relief, there are non-drowsy options as well.
Keep in mind that, sometimes, what you believe are allergy symptoms might actually result from a sinus infection. The symptoms are very similar and if you suffer from both, it can be hard to tell which one it is. If antihistamines no longer work for you, try sinus medication next.
Try Light Therapy
Pollen isn’t the only thing that irritates our eyes and allergy season doesn’t stop all those other irritants from stirring up trouble. Recently, I’ve tried to use light therapy to adjust my circadian cycle, but it helps my eyes too. Check your phone and tablet to see if it has a built-in feature to reduce blue light from your screens.
I used f.lux on my Windows desktop for three years before we made the switch to Chromebooks, which have the feature built in. I also wear computer glasses and adjust the lighting in the office to complement my computer screen and reduce nighttime eye strain. The warmer the color, the better.
Clean Up Often
When pollen gets into our home, it settles on various surfaces, just waiting for you to disturb them. Areas near windows and doors tend to get the bulk of it. However, we also track pollen into the house on our shoes, clothing and other personal effects. Here are some of the ways you can get rid of this:
- Wipe furniture, window sills and other appropriate areas with a damp cloth or even baby wipes.
- Use seat covers and wash them regularly.
- Sweep and mop the floors.
- Vacuum rugs and carpets at least once per week.
Improve Air Quality
Did you know that indoor air quality is typically far worse than outdoor air quality? The EPA estimates that pollutants are up to 5 times more concentrated indoors than outdoors. One possible effect of pollutants is that they cause further eye irritation. So, when pollen counts are low, I open the windows and doors to let fresh air in and use ceiling fans to circulate the fresh air.
I generally do not use central air conditioning unless it gets unbearably hot. HEPA air filters have also helped me to clean up the air. I have three that run continuously. Finally, if the air gets too dry, I turn on the humidifier. This also helps to reduce my sniffling and itchy eyes.
Use Eye Drops
Dry eyes are another condition I only experienced after moving to America. In fact, until the summer of 2016, I had no idea what dry eyes even were beyond the crazy commercials. Unfortunately, the rest of my family suffers from it too, so we’ve all tried different brands.
Refresh was a lifesaver when I had my city part-time job. For some reason, they kept them in our First Aid kits. A very kind California native noticed my discomfort one day and recommended this specific Visine product instead. It feels a little uncomfortable at first but it works and I love it.
If you dread the first half of spring the way I do because of terrible allergies, hopefully, these tips help you make it through. Are there some additional things you’ve tried that brought you allergy relief? Share them with me in the comments below!