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You vs. spring allergies: how to identify and avoid your triggers

You vs. spring allergies: how to identify and avoid your triggers

There’s a lot to love about spring in Louisiana, from festivals in every corner of the state to crawfish boils with family and friends. For many people, however, this season brings the return of an annual annoyance: spring allergies.

Are you dreading spring allergy season? If so, know that you don’t have to surrender to itchy eyes, a sore throat or a runny nose. You can take steps to pinpoint and avoid the allergens that trigger your symptoms. That might just make for one of your best springs yet.

Seasonal scourges: common triggers of spring allergies in Louisiana

Why do your allergies act up in spring? The answer lies in the allergens that prompt your immune system to go into overdrive to protect you, leading to allergy symptoms.

Spring allergies are seasonal allergies, which are active during certain times of the year. Pollen triggers many spring and fall allergies. Ragweed pollen is responsible for many fall allergies. In spring, however, tree pollen is often to blame. Oaks and other trees release pollen in spring, a process that may begin early after a mild winter. Longer and more intense allergy seasons are becoming more common.

Tree pollen is a major trigger for spring allergies in Louisiana, but it’s far from the only one. Others include:

  • Dust mites. These tiny creatures inhabit bedding, upholstery and carpet—and love warm, humid climates like ours.
  • Grass pollen. Like trees, grasses also release pollen in the spring, although they usually start later in the season.
  • Insect stings. Stings from several types of insects can cause allergic reactions, including bees, wasps, fire ants and buck moth caterpillars.
  • Mold. Mold spores, like pollen, travel by air. This allergen isn’t an outdoor-only concern. Mold and dust can also cause problems in your home. Mold is often found in household dust, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology.
  • Pet dander. Dead skin cells, feathers, saliva or urine from household animals can mix with dust, triggering allergic reactions.

Put your spring allergies to the test

If you’re dealing with symptoms of spring allergies, why attempt to grin and bear it when you could take action to boost your quality of life? The first step: Find out which allergens trigger your symptoms.

An allergist can perform testing to identify the substances that trigger your body’s allergic response. This specialist can also determine whether you have asthma, which can occur alongside allergies and may require treatment from a respiratory care specialist.

Once you know what you’re allergic to, you and your allergist or primary care provider can make an allergy treatment plan. Your plan may include over-the-counter or prescription medications or allergy shots. You’ll also need to steer clear of the allergens that set your symptoms off.

Avoidance strategy

Some simple changes to your daily habits can help you reduce or prevent exposure to many allergens—and minimize spring allergies’ effects. Here’s what you can do:

  • Be smart about when you go outside. Evening usually brings the highest tree and grass pollen levels, so complete outdoor activities earlier in the day.
  • Deny entry to pollen. Keep your home’s doors and windows closed and drive with the car windows up.
  • Keep an eye on outdoor allergen counts. You can find this information in local news outlets or online. Limit your time outdoors on high pollen count days. Do the same when the mold count is high.
  • Kick dust mites out of bed. Use a mattress cover and sheets designed to be effective against dust mites.
  • Use a dehumidifier at home. Keeping humidity levels low helps prevent mold growth.
  • Wash pollen away. Take a shower after spending time outdoors to prevent pollen from clinging to your hair and skin. Wipe your dog or cat with a damp cloth to remove pollen from fur.
  • Watch the weather. If the forecast calls for warm, dry and breezy weather—ideal conditions for pollen to take to the air—stay indoors.

Don’t let allergies spoil your spring. Schedule an appointment with a primary care provider who can help you manage symptoms so you can enjoy this special time of year.