Survival Guide for Springtime Allergies

If you have allergies, spring’s arrival last week may have brought mixed feelings. Around late March, allergy-causing plants and molds begin to flourish in Nebraska, and the predictable and relentless symptoms of sneezing, itching, congestion and watery eyes often follow.

Approximately one-third of the population has allergies. The numbers may be even higher in the Midwest due to the high prevalence of seasonal allergens such as ragweed, tree pollens and grasses. Perennial allergens such as dust mites, which prefer to live where there is 50 percent or more humidity, are also higher in the Midwest.

Take Control of Your Allergies 

Allergies don’t have to put a crimp on your lifestyle. You can minimize symptoms by being proactive and taking some preventive strategies. Begin over-the-counter allergy medications like antihistamines and topical nasal steroid sprays at the beginning of allergy season, even before symptoms appear. The antihistamine will block the histamine receptor to help prevent significant sneezing and runny nose, and nasal steroid sprays help to reduce swelling in your nose and the cascade of other allergy symptoms.

Once you get behind, it’s harder to clear up symptoms and it may take up to several days or more to get symptoms under control.

You can also practice these avoidance measures to minimize symptoms: 

  • As the weather warms, keep windows closed to avoid letting pollen inside and run the air conditioner in your dorm or apartment to circulate air. Tree pollens are especially hardy. Once they get inside your living space, they can last for months.
  • Check the daily weather report for local pollen and mold counts. When counts are high, reduce outdoor activity if possible. Pollen counts are usually highest on warm, dry, windy days and in the early morning.
  • Use nasal salt-water rinses to rinse allergens from inside the lining of your nose.
  • Wash your skin, hair and clothing after being outside.
  • Use a dehumidifier in your room during the humid season.
  • Pre-medicate if you are planning to be outside for a significant amount of time to minimize symptoms.

A combination of oral antihistamines combined with nasal sprays produce the best results. When over-the-counter medications fail to work or your symptoms begin interfering with school, work or sleep, it’s time to see your physician.

The University Health Center can offer treatments beyond over-the-counter meds such as medications, nasal sprays and steroid shots. To make an appointment, call 402.472.5000.

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