‘Tis the season of lush greens and budding flowers. While people are opening their windows to let the fresh spring breeze into their homes, less fortunate souls are shut inside to avoid making a sneeze machine out of their runny noses. If you are one of them, you might even have watery eyes not just from envy, but because of stubborn pollen triggering your allergies.
Some might mistake it as common colds, but you have probably noticed how you always get them during spring. After all, this is the time when some plants (e.g. grasses, oak trees, etc.) expel pollen - an airborne fine powder which allows them to reproduce.
Up to 30% of the global population suffers from this type of allergy as reported by the World Health Organization. Many are committed to the stay at home protocols for COVID-19, but rules of men are nothing to pesky pollens that seem to always find their way inside your room.
Since visiting the hospital might not be a good idea amidst a pandemic, count on us to drop the best home remedies and preventive methods that can help you beat pollen allergies
Pollen Allergy Causes and Symptoms: How will you know if you have it?
Coming into contact with pollen can activate your immune system’s war mode. Your body will launch a counter-attack in the form of histamine, which carries with it the collateral damages of:
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy throat
- Runny nose
- Itchy, watery, and red eyes
Also called seasonal allergic rhinitis, this type of allergies can be triggered by all sorts of pollen. Survey your surroundings and keep in mind Healthline’s list of common culprits:
- Birch pollen - Considered as among the most common allergens, birch pollen often fills the air during spring. Watch out, since a single birch tree is powerful enough to expel up to 5 million pollen grains that can travel 100 yards through the wind’s help.
- Oak pollen - Similar to birch trees, oaks also reproduce through pollen during spring. Although it is less triggering than other types, these substances can stay airborne for longer periods of time. More chances to spoil your day with severe allergic reactions.
- Grass pollen - Think you are safe after spring? Grass pollen got dibs of hot summer months. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, these allergens can cause the most difficult to treat and severe symptoms.
- Ragweed pollen - As the king of all weed pollens, ragweed plants are often to blame for your seasonal allergic rhinitis during late spring up to fall months. Beware of these resilient substances that can survive a mind winter and even travel across hundreds of miles in the air.
To confirm if pollen allergy is to blame for your frustrating sneezes, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) said that you will usually have to seek a doctor’s help and get a skin prick test. It is basically a procedure where a medical practitioner will place a small amount of allergen on your skin, lightly scratch that spot with a needle, and check if you have developed any redness, swelling, and itching in the next twenty minutes. But if you are taking meds that can sabotage the results or if you have very sensitive skin, you might undergo a blood test instead.
However, it is totally reasonable if you want to stay away from hospitals who already got their hands busy treating COVID-19 patients. Do not fret, certain lifestyle and hygienic adjustments can help make you and your home pollen-proof.
Protecting yourself from pollen allergies: Home remedies and preventive methods
It is unlikely to completely get rid of your pollen allergies, and it will persistently make a comeback every year. According to Healthline, patients with severe cases will need the following medical treatments:
- Antihistamines (e.g. cetirizine and diphenhydramine)
- Decongestants (e.g. pseudoephedrine and oxymetazoline)
- Medications with a combination of antihistamine and decongestant substances (e.g. triprolidine and pseudoephedrine, loratadine and pseudoephedrine, etc.)
- Allergy shots
- Nasal sprays
- Neti pots
But you wouldn’t want to wait for the worst, would you? You can protect yourself from pollen allergies with these home remedies and preventive methods:
Upgrade your home cleaning routine and air conditioning facilities
Staying at home increases your chances of reducing your risk of exposure to COVID-19, but you’ll have to put in more effort if you want to beat pollen allergies too.
According to Healthline, it is best to take control of pollens’ main medium - the air around you. Try to invest in air conditioning and in high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) dehumidifier, and check if your appliances come with a “CERTIFIED asthma and allergy-friendly” filter attachment. You can also try using extracts and herbs like spirulina and butterbur.
AAFA further recommends to keep all of your windows closed while pollens are traveling wild and free outside. You can never be too sure though, so you’ll have to do a lot more cleaning to shoo all the allergens away. Regularly vacuum your furniture and fixtures with a device that’s powered by a HEPA filter. Moreover, you might want to wash your beddings in hot, soapy water at least once a week.
Adopt more personal hygienic practices
It is not just your home that you’ll have to keep pollen-free. Keep your guard up for your own body too!
If you just got home from a morning jog or a quick run to the groceries, immediately change and wash the clothes you have worn. Make sure that you’ll pop them into a dryer afterward. AAFA warned that hanging them outside on a clothing line is as good as inviting pollen into your wardrobe.
This is also not the time to be lazy and to skip your daily baths. Use soap and shampoo to remove any stray pollen attached to your hair or skin. This will also avoid allergens to transfer and stick to your beddings.
Lastly, you might want to extend your COVID-19 physical distancing practices to your battle against pollen allergies. As much as possible, limit your close contacts with people or even pets who spent a good amount of time outdoors.
Use protective accessories whenever you need to go outside
If the quarantine policies for the pandemic aren’t enough, we sure hope that the pollen season can give you a compelling reason to stay at home. AAFA considers this as the best way to limit your chances of inhaling pollen and reducing your allergy symptoms.
However, there might be instances when you’ll have to venture into the great (and presently perilous) outdoors. Watch the local weather report first before leaving, and check today’s forecast about pollen-count. You can expect it to be at an all-time high when it is warm and windy, while cool and rainy days can be a sign that allergens are taking a break.
If your errand really can’t wait even on a high pollen-count weather, you can count on several protective accessories that can help keep pollen off your body.
Wear big sunglasses to protect your eyes from exposure to allergens, and use tuck your hair as well in a hat.
To keep pollen from getting into your mouth and nose, you can get a face mask that has been proven to filter small particles. Cloth masks may be cheap and reusable, but they can barely help in warding off both COVID-19 and allergens. Since a pollen’s size is between 10 to 40 microns, you can consider investing in products like activated carbon filters that can isolate substances as small as 0.3 microns. These filters are used with face masks with exhaust valves, which can be a more breathable alternative to surgical masks that can get uncomfortably moist after only a few hours of use.
Your worst days in spring can come in such a small package, so it pays to be prepared in warding off pollen allergens that are powerful enough to trigger uncontrollable sneezes and watery eyes. With our list of easy to follow preventive measures, we do hope that we helped make you feel more secure even while at the comfort of your home.
Being able to protect yourself with your own efforts is great, but be sure to call your doctor if these home remedies weren’t able to stop you from catching severe symptoms or if the over-the-counter medicines you took caused undesirable side effects. Give a medical expert a heads up as well if you plan to try a new herb or supplement just to make sure that these aren’t incompatible with other prescribed allergy medications.
Feel free to share this article with your relatives and friends who can use a helping hand against seasonal allergic rhinitis! And if you got any personal tips and tricks that saved you from the pollen allergy season, we’ll love to hear about them down in the comments below.