When trees and plants start flowering in Texas, it can only mean one thing: spring allergy season is upon us. More than 35 million Americans suffer with seasonal allergies, and North Texans might argue they’ve got it the worst with the high counts of pollen, mold and dust.
While there isn’t much you can do to prevent the wind from blowing or trees from growing, you can take special care to prevent allergies inside your home, making it a safe haven away from the problematic airborne culprits outside. It’s no surprise that pillows, carpets and window drapes gather dust that can aggravate allergies, but there are a few lesser known places you may not think about that could be the cause of your sneezing:
Shelves- Books aren’t the only shelf inhabitants attracting dust. Picture frames, houseplants and other decorative items also gather dust that may cause allergic reactions. Don’t skimp on dusting these areas on a regular basis.
Closets- In darker areas, mold can grow because of the humidity. Be sure to air out any places you suspect might be prone to moisture like closets, bathrooms and the basement.
Kids’ rooms- They might provide comfort to your little one, but stuffed animals can harbor dust mites and cause sneezing and itchy, watery eyes. If they can’t be washed, try to limit the number of stuffed pals you allow on the bed.
If you can’t avoid what is causing your allergy symptoms, an over-the-counter medication might provide some relief. When you are exposed to allergens, your body releases histamines that can cause sneezing, runny nose or an itchy nose and palate. Look for a medicine with an antihistamine that prevents histamines from affecting your body.
Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between allergies and a cold, but allergies will typically cause “itchy” symptoms beyond just a runny nose and sneezing. In some cases, allergy symptoms lead to nasal congestion and swelling that prevents mucus and drainage from leaving your nose, leading to a sinus infection. If you’ve only noticed the congestion for three or four days, it’s too early for your doctor to prescribe an antibiotic. However, if you’ve been congested for more than seven days, it might be time to see a doctor.
Looking for an alternative to prescriptions or over-the-counter medications? Nasal saline irrigation might be a good option. The process rinses the nasal passages with a salt-water solution and can help clear pollen, mucus and other irritants out of your nose. Because it helps promote nasal hygiene, it’s recommended for almost anyone who is having nasal issues. There are many products that can ensure the correct method of nasal irrigation, including the neti pot. Use of the neti pot to clear sinuses has been used for millions of years in India and has become more popular in the U.S. over the past decades, available now in most drugstores.
Spring has sprung and if you aren’t sure what is causing your allergy symptoms, or over-the-counter medicines just aren’t cutting it, consider going to an allergist or an ear, nose and throat specialist – commonly referred to as an ENT – who can help keep your allergies at bay. Centennial Medical Center in Frisco can help you find the doctor that’s right for you. Contact the physician referral line at 1-800-330-3819.
Dr. Patti Huang is an Ear, Nose and Throat Otolaryngologist on staff at Centennial Medical Center.