I will never forget the day I underwent my first allergy test. My primary care physician recommended I see an allergy specialist after treating me for multiple sinus infections over the course of a year.
I scoffed and said, “I don’t have allergies!” But I scheduled the appointment with an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose and throat doctor) nonetheless. A few weeks later, as I sat there with my arm and back on fire, nose running like a fire hose and eyes feeling like I’d been hit with pepper spray, I thought, “Hmm…maybe I do have allergies.”
What’s followed since that day is a constant battle against my multiple year-round allergies. And even though I do use medicinal remedies, there are many tricks I’ve learned over the past few years that have helped me alleviate allergies.
Here are some helpful tips:
1. Get informed
I have a little app on my phone that I check each day to find out which allergens are in the air and their levels. It may seem like a no-brainer, but since I know ragweed is my mortal enemy, if ragweed levels are high, I know not to spend too much time outdoors. Most TV weather forecasts also include allergen information.
2. Be prepared
Until I win the lottery (fingers crossed!), I’m going to have to mow my own lawn. Being allergic to grass, I’ve learned that wearing a protective mask, showering right away after I come inside, as well as immediately washing the clothes I wore to mow the lawn all help keep my grass allergy in check as much as possible.
3. Be clean
Besides taking a shower before I go to bed to remove any allergens from my hair and body, I also make sure to wash my bedding once a week in hot water. This helps prevent allergens from building up, including dust mites.
4. Seriously, be really clean
High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) filters may help keep the air in your home a bit more breathable. Do your homework, as you could spend a small fortune on these if you’re not careful. And make sure you change them regularly. In addition, rugs and carpets can become cesspools for allergens. If you have a choice, go with bare floors. You may also want to make sure you dust regularly, especially things like mini-blinds and fans that tend to get dusty quickly.
5. Drive carefully
That’s always good advice, but I mean be smart when driving as it relates to allergens. Keep your windows rolled up and make sure your air conditioner is recirculating the air, not drawing it in from outside of the car. If your car has a cabin air filter (most newer cars do), make sure you change it at least once a year, or as recommended by your car’s manufacturer.
6. Talk to your doctor
If I hadn’t discussed this with my primary care physician, I would never have gotten that allergy test. Now that I know what I’m up against, it’s been easier to stay healthy.