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It’s that time again: what to do about allergies in New Orleans

It’s that time again: what to do about allergies in New Orleans

Spring brings warmer weather, which beckons us outdoors to enjoy all the beauty our area has to offer. However, spring also means allergies in New Orleans. Are you ready?

If you’ve lived in this area for a while, you are probably familiar with the signs that potential allergens are in bloom—those itchy eyes, constant sneezes and a runny nose. Before you reach for the tissue box for the hundredth time this spring, take a few minutes to brush up on how to prevent spring allergies.

When allergies in New Orleans peak

Seasonal allergies flare up as pollen in the air becomes more abundant, thanks to the trees, weeds and grass that grow all around us. Here in New Orleans, spring allergies can start as early as February and last through June, depending on weather conditions and when blooms emerge.

This year, for example, has been warmer than many, which means that plants began blooming even earlier than usual. During the spring months, you can expect to be exposed to high pollen in the air, including tree pollen and grass pollen—typically in that order.

These spring and summer allergens join other common allergens, including the lowly dust mite and mold spores, which can be found both indoors and outdoors. Mold thrives in heat and humidity, which means our summers create a mold breeding ground.

How to survive and thrive during allergy season

If you’ve had seasonal allergies before, you probably want to avoid them in the future. Take a multifaceted approach to preventing allergy symptoms:

  • Keep an eye on pollen levels. Did you know you can check the pollen levels just like you check the predicted temperature for the day? Most weather apps now include information about pollen, which you can use to guide your plans for outdoor activities. On days with a high pollen level, you may want to make indoor plans instead.
  • Talk with a doctor about an allergy relief strategy. The best way to prevent your allergies will vary depending on what you’re allergic to and the symptoms you experience. Your primary care provider (PCP) can offer suggestions for over-the-counter or prescription medications that can be taken regularly to prevent allergy symptoms or as needed for allergy relief.
  • Shut the windows and doors. Keeping the doors and windows closed in your house, office and car can help keep allergens outside. This is beneficial all the time for people plagued by severe allergies but is especially important on high pollen count days and when it’s windy.
  • Clean off the allergens. If you’ve been outdoors, take off your shoes as soon as you get home and change clothes to keep allergens like pollen from dropping off in your house. You may also want to take a quick shower to rid your body and hair of airborne allergens.

If you’ve tried all the basic measures for preventing seasonal allergies and still find yourself experiencing symptoms, talk with your PCP. You may need a referral to a West Jefferson Medical Center ear, nose and throat specialist, who can pinpoint your specific allergy triggers and offer a treatment plan. In some cases, daily preventive medications or even allergy shots may be needed to help you stop seasonal allergy symptoms.

Not sure if your symptoms are caused by allergies or another illness? A PCP can confirm a diagnosis and offer a treatment plan. Find one here.