Summer comes with playful outdoor activities and family gatherings. The last thing we want is to have to be dealing with trips to the emergency room or any unwanted surprise to make us or our loved ones sick.
Hurricane season is upon us. This is the time when stocking-up on canned foods, batteries and water goes along with the everlasting hope that we will not get hit. Whether you already have an established routine of refurbishing the pantry and finding adequate shelter, or you are completely new to the hurricane-preparedness madness that goes into effect when under a storm threat, we have thought about providing you with a special checklist.
1. Avoid the “priming” effect. You should start drugs, which were previously effective, early in the season before pollen peaks. This should be before we start seeing pollen in trees throughout the country in February, and possibly January for southern states like Florida. We are mainly referring to antihistamines, ideally not the ones that make you drowsy. We also recommend the frequent use of saline nasal sprays to avoid the accumulation of pollen in the nasal passages.
2. Use goggles or glasses for those suffering from allergic eye symptoms. Similarly, a mask is recommended if you plan to pick up the fallen leaves, mow the lawn, or do any kind of yard work under the trees at the start and during the season.
3. Close the windows, change the air conditioner filter frequently, and it is also recommended to use a high efficiency filter. Drive with your car windows closed and use the ac to recirculate the air you breathe while driving.
4. Consider seeing an allergist for a proper evaluation of your symptoms because not all symptoms are triggered by the spring season. Early treatment helps prevent suffering during this time of year.
5. If you are allergic try to avoid activities or sports outdoors in the spring. If you can’t avoid outdoor activities then try to avoid peak times when the pollen count is higher. This happens between 5am and 10am usually, so try to play sports in the afternoon to avoid discomfort.
6. Hot, dry days will have a greater amount of pollen in the environment than cold, rainy days. Consider this when making outdoor plans.
7. Once you know what you are allergic to, stay informed of the daily pollen report in your area. Pollen and mold reports are often provided by weather centers as well as certain specialists in your area. FCAAC provides this report daily on our website for the convenience of our patients. Note that the type of pollen varies depending on the vegetation in each geographic region.
8. Change clothes once you get home from an outing because pollen sticks to fabric. You can spread pollen spores all throughout your home without even knowing it.
9. Do not dry your clothes outside on the patio because pollen can get stuck to it. Ideally, always use a dryer or let the clothes dry indoors.
It hardly seems fair, but if you’re prone to spring or summer allergies, chances are you’re at risk for allergies when the weather turns cooler, too. The reason is simple: Many of those warm-weather irritants like pet dander, dust and mold and mildew are around all year. And in Florida where the winters are mild, outdoor allergens like pollen also can cause year-round allergy woes.
To avoid having these seasonal traditions irritate your allergy symptoms, experts recommend spraying live trees and greenery with water before they are brought inside to remove potential allergens. You should also remove the dust from holiday decorations before hanging them.
For some people with allergies, the best option is to switch to an artificial Christmas tree. During the holidays, poinsettias can also be problematic for people who have latex allergies since this plant is part of the rubber tree family, said Adriana Bonansea-Frances, M.D., PhD.
The symptoms of colds and allergies are similar, so how can you tell if your runny nose and sneezing are signs of a cold or flu or allergies? ‘If your symptoms last longer than a week, it’s probably not a cold’, says Dr. Bonansea Frances. Allergies can linger for weeks or even months. In addition, colds and flu sometimes come with fever and aches and pains — symptoms not usually associated with allergies.
The most common allergy symptoms include:
• Coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath
• Stuffy, runny or itchy nose
• Congestion or sinus pressure
• Itchy or watery eyes
• Dark circles under the eyes
• Itchy, prickly skin or hives
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology advises taking the following steps to allergy-proof your home:
• Remove carpets, if possible.
• Mop, sweep, vacuum and dust often. Wash showers and sinks to remove mold and mildew.
• Discard shower curtains, wallpaper or carpeting that have mold.
• Turn on exhaust fans when taking a shower or cooking to reduce humidity and odors.
• Use dehumidifiers to keep humidity levels at 30-40 % to help control dust mites and mold.
• Install high-efficiency furnace filters, which eliminate 30 times more allergens.
• Use a HEPA air filter to clean dust from the air and a HEPA vacuum on carpets to reduce pet allergens and remove dust mites.
• Wash bedding and pajamas in hot water twice a month. Use allergy-proof covers on mattresses, pillows and comforters.
• Bathe pets and wash pet bedding each week. Keep pets out of the bedrooms.
• Call a professional when combating mouse and insect infestations.
When allergies flare-up, take care of yourself to keep your allergy symptoms in check:
• Wash your hands often, especially after playing with pets.
• Take a shower or change clothes to remove allergens that may be clinging to you.
• Avoid touching your face.
Dr. Bonansea Frances advises patients to consult their doctor about medication options and dosages.
Treatments for winter allergies include:
• Antihistamines to reduce sneezing, sniffling and itching.
• Decongestants to clear mucus and relieve congestion and swelling.
• Saline solution to irrigate nasal passages and clear congestion.
• Allergy shots to expose the body to gradually increasing doses of the allergen.
Living in South Florida exposes you to allergy triggers all year round. If you suspect having any allergy symptoms, you need to consult an allergist. We’ll be happy to help you.