April showers bring May flowers, and May flowers bring the return of seasonal allergy symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing, sinus headaches, and runny noses. We asked Hilma scientific advisor and allergist Dr. Neeta Ogden for a few ways to fight triggers like pollen during allergy season, naturally.
Keep Outdoor Air Outside
A fresh breeze coming in through the open windows sounds nice—but if you’re suffering from symptoms of allergies, that fresh air can carry in pollen that can make you miserable. Pollen counts are now higher than ever, so keep your windows closed so you don’t contaminate your clean inside air and welcome triggers into your home. For those allergens that do make it inside, try to deep clean your home once a week to rid it of any irritants, and use a dehumidifier to squash any pollen generation.
Wash, Wash, Wash!
Wash your hands, your outdoor clothes, and your hair, especially after outdoor activities. Pollen can linger on your clothing’s surface as well as your hands and hair and cause irritation. You may even want to consider keeping your outdoor clothes in a garage or other designated area until you can throw them in the laundry. This way, you don’t bring the triggers into the rest of your home.
One of the cornerstones of allergy treatment is avoidance and reducing exposure. Masks help decrease the amount of pollen that might hit your respiratory system. One study published last fall found that nurses who wore face masks during COVID-19 reported fewer symptoms of allergic rhinitis. A standard surgical mask will help—it can filter particles larger than 3 micrometers, and pollen is typically 10-100 micrometers in size. Allergies can lead to swollen and irritated eyes as the sensitive membrane that covers the eyeball comes in contact with pollen — so if you wear contacts, consider switching to glasses during pollen season.
Choose Your Ingredients Carefully
When it comes to over-the-counter solutions, ingredients matter. Be especially careful when it comes to those that can cause sedation, like the antihistamine diphenhydramine. Diphenhydramine has been shown to affect things like reaction time even when someone doesn’t think they’re sedated.
If you prefer to go natural, herbs can help you breathe easier whether you’re outside or inside. Ingredients that have been clinically proven to support sinuses include nettles (supports healthy nasal pathways), butterbur (helps with healthy sinus response), tinospora (stimulates macrophages, which supports the immune system), and spirulina (supports sinus health). And these are non-drowsy, so you don’t have to worry about side-effects getting in your way.
Note: This information is for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your physician before treating any disorder.