You’d think that after the pollen explosion of spring, you would be able to breathe easier in summer – but you’re wrong. Plenty more plants are blooming come the hotter months, and toward July, August and September, you begin contending with the year’s worst allergens, present almost everywhere: ragweed.
Still, you shouldn’t let a stuffy, runny nose, itchy, wet eyes and a persistent sneeze keep you from enjoying the most beautiful time of year. If you are suffering serious summer allergies, here are a few ways you can keep your symptoms under control.
Reduce Irritants Around Your Home
When allergies strike, your home should be a haven of clean air where you can retreat to breathe easy. However, for that to happen, you need to be diligent about keeping irritants out of your home. That might mean getting your pets professionally groomed and spending more time vacuuming the floors and lint-rolling the furniture. It might also mean staying smoke-free during the period you suffer allergy attacks or asking smokers you know to light up outside, far from windows and doors.
To help your home’s air stay clear, you should invest in an air purifier. These machines work better than your A/C to catch allergens and irritants because they have more advanced filtration systems. Air purifiers range in price, but you can find top-quality options in the $200 range.
Try Stronger Allergy Treatments
Your typical over-the-counter allergy medication might be fine when ragweed isn’t blooming, but when late summer hits, you probably want to seek stronger stuff. You can ask your pharmacist for allergy medication stored behind the counter that doesn’t require a prescription, or you can ask your doctor to prescribe the most powerful allergy treatments available. Though these might come with more intense side effects, like confusion, moodiness, difficulty passing urine or nausea, at least you won’t want to scratch your eyeballs out of your head or blowing your nose raw.
There are natural home remedies for many allergy symptoms. For example, you can soothe your sinuses with a saline solution in a Neti pot, or you might ingest more honey to inoculate yourself against pollen. However, if your allergies are severe, you might want to skip these and go for the hard stuff, i.e. medication.
Suit up to Defend Against Allergens
Allergens attack best when inhaled, but they have other ways of sneaking into your system. Often, pollen and such will cling to your hair and skin, so even when you are in your insulated, air-purified home, you might be breathing them in. To prevent this, you should put together an allergy defense suit to wear every time you step outside. At the very least, your suit should consist of long pants and sleeves as well as a hat covering gathered hair. For greater protection, you might consider adding gloves, sunglasses and a filtered mask.
Abandon Allergens at the Door
Your suit will keep you insulated from harmful allergens, but pollen and the like will still cling to your clothes, shoes and any showing skin and hair. Thus, to keep your home clean and clear, you need to escape those hangers-on as soon as you step through your door. Ideally, your home has a mud room where you can drop your allergen defense suit every day. The worn suit should go straight into the washing machine; by keeping it unwashed in your home, you are allowing allergens to float around in your sacred, allergy-free space. You might consider using a gentle, hypoallergenic detergent if you are particularly sensitive to chemicals or smells.
Next, you should shower. A shower will wash off any unexpected allergens still stuck to your person. You don’t have to use soap, but you should scrub your skin and hair, especially in areas where your allergen suit did not cover. You should try to rinse in this way after every adventure outdoors to avoid inhaling allergens when you don’t need to.
Rest up to Help Your Body Fight
The worst part of allergy season is the near-constant feelings of fatigue. The allergic response your body launches to eliminate invading allergens uses extreme amounts of energy, and the chemicals floating around your system also stimulate drowsiness. Worse, most allergy medication also has some sort of sleepiness as a side effect. In truth, there is no healthy way to avoid this except allowing yourself to sleep. When allergies strike, you should give yourself eight to 10 hours of sleep every night, and you might even schedule a few naps. Then, your allergies might be over faster, so you can get back to enjoying the summer in full.