A throbbing head and stuffy nose in February usually seems like an easy diagnosis in the midst of cold and flu season. However, this year, the causes of hay fever are already here to stay, and allergies may be to blame.
It may seem hard to believe, but spring allergies have already started in many parts of the United States. Thanks to a mild winter, symptoms may start earlier and last longer than usual for those sensitive to tree pollen.
Across the country, allergists were logging record pollen counts as early as mid-January. During a normal allergy season, spring allergy sufferers would usually start noticing mild symptoms in February, with the really miserable symptoms, such as itchy eyes, sneezing and runny noses, taking effect around March. This year, many people are already in the midst of the misery as I write this blog.
Some experts are predicting a longer allergy season than normal as well. However, that is difficult to predict, because the length of an allergy season depends on the amount of rainfall an area receives. After trees start blooming, as long as rain keeps coming, the flowers on the trees keep producing pollen. When a season is warm and dry, pollen comes and goes quickly.
Many plants and trees, such as the willow tree, that cause spring allergies are already in bloom.
Photo by Through the Lens of Kimberly Gauthier/Courtesy Flickr
If you feel spring allergies sneaking up on you already, there are a few steps you can take to fight back:
• Take a shower before bed. That way, pollen that has attached to your hair during the day doesn’t end up in bed with you interrupting a good night’s sleep.
• Keep the windows shut. Letting the warm air inside after staying cooped up all winter may seem like a good idea, but opening windows will only invite pollen inside. Use the air conditioner instead.
• Recirculate the air in your car, rather than using the vent, to keep pollen out. Also, cruising with the windows down and the wind blowing through your hair is a big no-no.
• Check the pollen count in the morning. Websites like pollen.com can give you the pollen forecast for the day so you can plan your day accordingly. When a high pollen count is predicted, try to delay activities like running errands and exercising until later in the day, when pollen counts usually decrease.
And, for even more tips and tricks on surviving the allergy season, check out this article, "Natural Herbal Remedies for Allergies."