Managing Seasonal Allergies: How to Minimize Your Symptoms

By on Apr 24, 2015

Sneezing, coughing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, hives, sound all too familiar?

The range of symptoms for seasonal allergies are as varied as the number of potential allergens that exist in Southern Nevada. And if this year seems like it has been worse than in the past, it isn’t just your imagination. Normally the worst pollen counts occur in March through May, but they started as early as February this year.

In a study done by Quest Diagnostics in 2011[i], Las Vegas was rated the second worst metropolitan area in the United States for Ragweed allergies and number five on the list for animal allergies. But Ragweed isn’t the only culprit for anyone suffering this season. The Mulberry tree, Olive tree, and Ash tree all pollinate in the spring and can cover the ground, rooftops, and cars with the aid of the Las Vegas valley’s infamous wind. And you aren’t alone in your suffering: 40% of children and 30% of adults suffer from allergies nationwide.

So what are allergens? Allergens are a specific subset of “antigens” or anything that causes the body’s immune system to create antibodies in response to what it senses are external threats[ii]. Allergens differ from other antigens because the antibodies that they cause in the body are “allergic antibodies”, producing reactions like a runny nose, rashes, and itchy eyes. People without allergies don’t have allergic responses because the antibodies they produce are not “allergic antibodies.”

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if your symptoms are the result of allergies or a cold since the effects of both can be quite similar:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery, itchy eyes
  • Frequent sneezing
  • Coughing accompanied by a tickling in the throat
  • Sometimes difficulty breathing or wheezing, especially for people with asthma
  • Fatigue and irritability
  • Sleep interruption

Whereas a cold will either get worse or better, allergy symptoms stagnate for as long as the allergen is present. If you aren’t sure about the cause of your symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor. They will be able to determine if you have allergies and the best course of action for managing them.

There are a few easy things you can do to minimize your exposure to allergens:

  • If you are planning on spending time outside, do so in the early morning and on days without a lot of wind.
  • Use air conditioning in your home and car instead of leaving the windows open.
  • Be diligent about changing the filters frequently so that most of the allergen particles can be kept outside of your home.
  • Limit exposure to other allergens like dust, mold, and pet dander. Although you may not think you have allergies to those things, contact with other allergens can exacerbate symptoms or allergies you already have.
  • Clean your home often, especially rugs, carpet, and curtains that can be easily ignored.
  • Prevent the growth of mold by fixing leaks and cleaning showers and bath areas often.
  • Take a shower in the evening to wash away allergens from your skin and hair.

Allergies can make anyone’s endurance waiver, no matter how strong-willed they may be. It’s important to speak to your doctor if your symptoms feel out of control and they are impacting your quality of life.