How to fight the 5 most common allergies
Allergies mean utter misery for most sufferers. The good news is there are ways to combat those stuffy noses, watery eyes and other likely symptoms. Here’s a look at how to protect yourself from the big five allergens: grass, mold, ragweed, trees and dust.
If you suffer from grass pollen allergies, you’re in good company. Around 400 million people worldwide have the same affliction. In the United States, prime-time for grass allergies in northern regions is generally late spring or early summer, when grasses tend to pollinate. On the other hand, in southern areas, because grasses may pollinate year-round, you can suffer from allergic symptoms just about any time.
Protecting yourself: Mow your lawn diligently, since shorter grass is less likely to release pollen. And wear a mask when you do. Also, consider re-landscaping your lawn with allergy-safe options such as ivy or Spanish moss.
Because mold thrives in wet and warm environments, especially at temperatures of 77 degrees Fahrenheit and above, summer-time can be a big season for the stuff. On the other hand, autumn has its own special problems: When you rake all those falling leaves, you are likely releasing fungal spores into the air.
Protecting yourself: Use an air conditioner in the summer to keep temperatures below the level mold needs to grow rapidly. In the autumn, make sure your gutters are clean and working properly, so water drains away from your home. And at all times, ventilate your bathroom when showering to prevent moisture from building up.
Especially allergy-inducing trees are those with fine, powdery pollen that can be easily blown away by a strong breeze. Breathing in just a small amount is enough to cause a reaction. If you’re in the Midwest, March and early April are tricky, because that’s when maple, elm and ash spread their seeds. Texas, on the other hand, has many mountain cedars, which can blanket entire sections of the state in late winter and early spring. But December has its own tree allergy problems, thanks to mold in Christmas trees that can cause allergic reactions.
Protecting yourself: Prune back the branches of problematic trees in your yard to reduce the amount of pollen they release. Or, better yet, remove the whole tree and replace it with a more allergy-friendly variety.
Dust mites, microscopic critters that measure 0.2–0.3 millimeters in length, typically feed on skin flakes from humans and animals. Major triggers of allergic reactions to dust mites are digestive enzymes from the mite’s gut that exist in its feces and exoskeleton. You’ll find them almost anywhere, from carpeting to upholstered furniture.
Protecting yourself: Use special filters to block dust coming out of heating vents. Change bed linen weekly, washing it in hot water. Use dust-mite-proof bed clothes, and cover pillows and mattresses with hypoallergenic covers. And keep the air temperature low, since dust mites thrive in warmer temperatures.
One measly ragweed plant can release about 1 billion grains of pollen over the course of a ragweed season, which generally is late summer and early fall. It’s also a major cause of hay fever, as many as half of all cases of pollen-related allergic rhinitis in North America are caused by pollen from the plant.
Protecting yourself: Try to choose indoor activities if the pollen count is high. If you do something outside, make it early: The lowest concentration is around 6:00 am. Also, keep your windows closed during allergy season to avoid letting pollen into your home.
Whether the problem is ragweed, trees, dust, mold or grass, a HEPA air purifier, like Coway Airmega, can work to eliminate allergens from the air and help you breathe easier.