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Clear Your Head

Seasonal allergies affect about 40 million people each year. And now, researchers suggest that our changing climate is contributing to extending and worsening the allergy season.

What is an allergy?

An allergy is an overreaction of your body’s immune system to an allergen, a foreign substance that is either eaten, breathed into the lungs, injected (for example, a bee sting), or touched. Depending on the allergen, symptoms may include coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, scratchy throat, and rashes. In more severe cases, hives, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and even death may occur.

Prevention

Since there’s no cure for allergies, the best strategy is to prevent exposure to the allergen altogether. However, with indoor and outdoor environmental allergens like various types of pollen, dust, and mold, it can be difficult to prevent exposure. And it’s getting more challenging because of climate change, which causes trees, weeds, and grasses to produce even more pollen.

So if you suffer from allergies, try these tips to combat the effects of the rising pollen count:

  • Stay indoors on windy days or when pollen counts are high.
  • Keep windows closed while traveling in the car and at home.
  • Don’t dry laundry outside.
  • Shower after spending time outside to wash pollen off your skin and hair.
  • If you have asthma, continue to use your controller medication to keep symptoms under control.
  • Use high efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA) for home heating and cooling systems, vacuum cleaners, and standalone air purifiers.

Treatment

With more people than ever experiencing seasonal allergy symptoms, it’s no wonder the market for allergy remedies has grown to meet the demand. Medications come in pills, liquids, nasal sprays, eye drops, and topical creams or ointments—by prescription and over-the-counter.

With so many choices, it’s hard to know which allergy medication is right for you. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider for recommendations. Your pharmacist can also help you find an over-the-counter treatment to help your symptoms and will make sure that it does not interact with your other medications or conditions.