For the 36 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, the time has come to close the windows and stock up on tissues. That’s right, allergy season is here. However, for those people living with chronic lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and emphysema—especially those who also suffer from seasonal allergies—allergy season can bring a number of serious complications that many others do not experience.
Unfortunately, climate change has made allergy season longer than ever before, while the increase in temperature has also caused pollen-producing plants to grow and prosper at exponential rates. Further, the combination of pollution and pollen in the air that we breathe has caused allergens to invade the body more aggressively than in the past.
However, the good news is that steps can be taken to protect you from trouble-causing allergens.
The first step is to avoid allergens. Before leaving the house, check the forecast for your area’s pollen, mold spore and ozone levels. Sites such as the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology or the public-service organization AirNow are good sources for this information. If the Air Quality Index is above 150 (100 for those who are allergy- or asthma-prone), stay inside as much as possible. Also, be sure to keep the windows closed on these days, to prevent allergens from coming in.
When you’ve been outdoors, it’s a good idea to change clothes as soon as you enter your house. That way, you won’t track pollen and dust throughout your house. Sunglasses can also protect you, as they block your eyelashes and eyelids from attracting pollen.
Further, take an antihistamine at the first sign of a sniffle. Even nonprescription medications can relieve most people’s symptoms. If these over-the-counter medications don’t do the trick, see your doctor for allergy testing. Typically, a skin test can determine what’s causing your allergies so that you can get the best course of treatment. These include prescription antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays. For a permanent solution, allergy shots are also available.
To ensure that breathing complications do not arise as a result of allergy season, talk with your doctor about additional preventative measures that can be taken. You can never be too prepared when it comes to you and your health.