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Advice for Healthy Living

Mary Lou Hayden, RN, MS, FNP, AE-C – BreatheAmerica Richmond

You Really Don’t Have to Live This Way

Spring is on our doorstep, and for some allergy patients, the spring season signals pollen misery.  Typical spring allergy symptoms include sneezing, itching, runny nose, congestion, red and watery eyes, and even throat and ear itching.  Pollen exposure can also worsen asthma control for some patients.  The first pollens of the season are from trees.  While many people think blooming plants such as daffodils and azaleas generate the most pollen, it’s actually the trees which cause allergy symptoms.  Tree pollen is quickly spread by the wind and can be very widespread.  In contrast, beautiful flowering plants attract insects which do the work of moving pollen from one plant to another.  Trees in central Virginia pollinate from February through late spring, with an intense pollen season usually in April and May where outdoor surfaces are covered in yellow pollen.  Following the trees are the grasses found in our yards and in uncultivated spaces.  Weeds are present in summer with a significant increase in ragweed pollen from mid-August until frost.  It is important to remember that the wind can carry pollen miles from its source.

How can you help reduce your pollen allergy symptoms?  A few easy tips include keeping the windows at home and in the car closed, drying laundry in the dryer, and showering head to toe every evening before bed to prevent accumulation of pollen in the bedroom and bed.  If you have an indoor/outdoor pet, it should be kept out of the bedroom as the fur can attract and carry pollen into the house.  Of course, you can treat your symptoms with medications which may help, but only allergy desensitization (traditional allergy shots or new oral tablets which are awaiting approval by the FDA) is curative.  All of the providers here at BreatheAmerica Richmond can provide a definitive diagnosis and recommend the best treatment options to help you enjoy the beauty of spring with minimal allergy symptoms.