Spring is on its way, bringing with it pollen, in all its allergy-inducing glory. If you’re sensitive to pollen, you’re probably already gearing up for a miserable couple of months, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can minimize allergens in your home, protect yourself outside, and give your eyes the care they deserve. Here, we offer a few tips from the experts on seasonal allergies and eye care. Pollen is the main cause of springtime allergies, and it can travel for miles before finding its way into your nose. If you’re allergic to pollen, your immune system mistakes it for something dangerous and releases antibodies to attack it. Histamines are released into the blood, triggering a runny nose, itchy eyes, and other allergy symptoms. Fortunately, there are some good ways to keep pollen at bay.
- Don’t let pollen into your house. Even though the weather may be pleasant, it’s best to keep doors and windows closed, especially at night. Stay inside as much as possible in the early morning hours, because pollen is typically emitted between 5 and 10 am. If you’ve been outside, take a shower and change clothes as soon as you get home, and never dry clothing or linens outside, where it can pick up pollen.
- Clean your home thoroughly to remove allergens. Pollen is one culprit, but there’s also dust, pet dander, mold, and cockroach droppings to contend with. Cleaning on a regular schedule can help minimize allergens in your home and help you breathe easier. Wear a dust mask when you’re cleaning, and use a damp or treated cloth to dust, so you don’t scatter the dust. Vacuum once or twice a week, using a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Wash your bedding at least once a week in hot water, and dry it in a hot dryer. If you have pets, bathe them once a week to keep dander under control, and wash your hands any time you pet an animal.
- Protect yourself from allergens when you’re outside. Wear glasses, to keep pollen out of your eyes. If you want to enjoy the outdoors, do it on cloudy, windless days, because pollen levels are higher when it’s dry, warm, and windy. Finding out what you’re allergic to can be very helpful: if you can recognize it on sight you can more easily avoid it, and if you know what it is you can stay inside during its high pollen hours.
- If you’re suffering from eye allergies, have a plan to treat them. Using lubricating eye drops can help rinse away pollen, as can saline nose spray. Decongestant eye drops can constrict the blood vessels in the eyes, reducing redness, but shouldn’t be used for more than three days. Oral antihistamines can sometimes help, but in some cases, they can cause dry eyes and may worsen eye allergy symptoms.
- Ask your doctor for help. There are prescription medications that can be helpful in controlling eye allergy symptoms. There are antihistamine, mast cell stabilizer, NSAID and corticosteroid eye drops that can alleviate or prevent allergy symptoms. Your doctor may also prescribe non-sedating oral antihistamines, or recommend allergy shots.
One of the leading eye centers in Illinois, the Gerstein Eye Institute in Chicago has been helping patients take care of their eyes since 1968. Our certified professional staff has decades of ophthalmologic experience and has worked together to perform over 20,000 procedures. Dr. Gerstein, well-versed in the most advanced technologies, is committed to helping patients find the treatment that’s right for you. For more information call (773) 596-1245 or visit our website today.