There are not many things more miserable that a full blown, seasonal allergy attack. As we transition from Spring to Summer here in the San Francisco Bay Area, pollen and other airborne irritants, combined with windy conditions spell itchy, swollen eyes, runny noses, and general malaise for millions of people.
An allergic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system treats foreign, reactive particles such as pollen, mold, and dander as microbial threats. In response, it releases a massive amount of histamine, a biochemical that dilates blood vessels and makes them more permeable, which causes swelling and puffiness around the mucous membranes. The Bay Area, especially Marin County has the distinction of being home to many species of vegetation that are especially allergenic, especially tree blossoms, dandelions and sunflowers. It can make what should be a festive Summer a dreaded time of the year.
Here are some tips to minimize allergies:
1. Wear sunglasses and a large brimmed hat when going outside during peak allergy times (10 am to 3 pm). This will block a significant amount of pollen from reaching your eyes and nose.
2. Remember to change clothes frequently. Pollen gets stuck on your clothes, which is how it makes it into your home. Before you sit on your couch or in your bed, change clothes if they were previously exposed to pollen.
3. Wash your hair and face frequently; avoid hair spray and hair gel. Pollen sticks to hair due to static electricity; hair products prevent them from being brushed out. Wash your hair thoroughly before you go to bed. You don’t want to sleep through the night with pollen on your pillow and sheets.
4. Wash your eyes with a saline solution. If your allergic reaction is severe, use anti-histamine eye drops.
5. For itchy and runny noses, use over the counter medications like Zyrtec and saline sprays.
6. Try using air filters around the home, and humidifiers to minimize pollen and dander concentrations. The Ionic Breeze fanless air purifier works well for trapping pollen without blowing it all over the place.
7. If all else fails, stay indoors as much as possible, especially during high pollen alerts. Keep windows shut, use your central air conditioner, and make sure you have a clean filter.
With careful planning and vigilance, you can make it through allergy season.