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Seasonal allergies …

I’m sure you’ve heard already that this is one of the worst years for seasonal (pollen and mold) allergy sufferers in recent memory. Here in Minnesota, it’s the price we pay for a short, mild winter. The pollen seasons start earlier, peak faster, and cause us stronger symptoms before we’re ready for them.

The best advice I can give is to prepare for these symptoms. Don’t wait until you’re miserable to use your medications. Stay on top of them. If you’re a person who requires no medication at all during the winter, start your seasonal treatments a month ahead of when you usually start your symptoms in previous years.

Nasal sprays or nasal inhalers are essential. Antihistamines cover up symptoms, but prescription steroid nasal sprays can actually prevent allergic reactions from starting in the first place. I recommend nasal sprays regularly (every day) and antihistamines only if there are still symptoms after using nasal sprays.

Now, I talked about medications first because prevention of exposure to outdoor pollens can be difficult. My desire is not for you to live in a bubble. We were made to enjoy the outdoors! Still, there are small steps of prevention you can take that can make a BIG difference.

  1. Close your windows. At least after being outdoors, you have a place to come indoors that is pollen-free and will give your immune system a nice break.
  2. Change your clothes when coming in from outside. Pollen is very sticky, and it is microscopic. You can’t see it, but it is there, all over your clothes. Change into something clean and you’ll feel better.
  3. Shower/rinse off after coming in from outside, or at least before going to bed. As I said, pollen is very sticky – if you go outside and then you come in and go to bed, you’re bringing pollen right along with you. You might as well be sleeping outside if you’re doing that! Wash your pillow case in hot water today, and from now on rinse off your hair and body before crawling in for sleep. Your nose, eyes, skin and lungs will thank you in the morning.

Your neighborhood Physician Assistant,

Nikki Zack


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