Spring may finally be here to stay and with it, Maryland’s spring allergies are here too. Tree allergy season has begun and will run through the mid-May. Runny nose, sneezy and itchy eyes? Find out what is going on and what you can do.
Tree allergy season around Annapolis, Maryland is nearing it’s peak with expected tree pollen to be at their highest levels, particularly for maple, elm and juniper. The Maryland State tree, the White Oak, is often a particularly bad offender as it pollinates for 6 weeks.
About 25% of us have allergies and often they are inherited. If you get a “cold” around the same time every year, you probably have some component of allergies. The only way to tell is to see your doctor–or if you don’t want to wait, you can schedule a quick appointment at Evolve.
What Can You Do?
Here are some basic tricks to minimize how much allergy-causing pollens reach your eyes and nose. Here at Evolve Medical, we recommend these 11 simple measures:
- Keep doors and windows closed.
- “Recirculate” the air in your car
- Take shoes off when you get home–don’t track pollen throughout the house.
- Changes clothes and shower when you get home (if you’ve been outside) to wash off all pollen.
- Wash your hands more often
- Keep pets clean. Dogs are natural duster and will bring a lot of pollen in the house.
- Mold allergy? Consider a dehumidifier. Keeping the humidity level under 50% in the main living areas can really help.
- Set indoor temps between 60-70 degrees
- Clean your house more often during the worst allergy season
- Rinse your nose with saline with either nasal irrigation 2 or 3 times per day
- Monitor the allergy forecast to help plan your day: www.pollen.com.
If the above steps do not completely control your allergies, the next step is to consider medication. At Evolve, we recommend starting with Nasacort steroid nasal spray. Over the last 20 years, these sprays have been proven to be very safe and the steroid itself stays just on the inside of your nose (not in your blood stream). We prefer Nasacort over Flonase only because the former is not scented.
When using nasal steroids, remember these important tips from the NIH:
- Wash your hands well.
- Gently blow your nose to clear the passageway.
- Shake the container several times.
- Keep your head upright. Do not tilt your head back.
- Breathe out.
- Block one nostril with your finger.
- Insert the nasal applicator into the other nostril.
- Aim the spray toward the outer wall of the nostril.
- Inhale slowly through the nose and press the spray applicator.
- Breathe out and repeat to apply the prescribed number of sprays.
- Remember: nasal steroid sprays do NOT work day to day. You must use them daily for a week or more so begin to see the maximum benefits.
Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is the grand-daddy of all the antihistamines but it is also the most sedating (it is the active ingredient in nearly every “PM” product like Tylenol PM. Not only that, but you can actually get a DUI in Maryland if attempting to drive after taking Benadryl. For a list of the 8 families of medicines that can cause one to drive impaired, see this article.
Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec are all considered safer options and make most people less sleepy. At Evolve Medical, we recommend avoiding the first generation anti-histamines (above) and choosing one of these three anti-histamines.