How to Reduce the Dreaded Austin Allergy Symptoms – Part 1
Living in Austin, often listed as one of the Top 5 Worst Places for allergies, you probably know firsthand what it’s like to suffer from allergies. This week’s record breaking cedar pollen records ha Austin is unique in having three distinct pollen seasons. The fall season, from mid-August to early November, ragweed and other weeds predominate. In the winter, Mountain Cedar pollen lasts from December to February and is unique to Central Texas. In the spring, oak and other trees like ash, elm, and pecan pollinate from February to early June. The hot, dry summer weather often kills off much of the grass, which means there is generally very little pollen in July and early August. Because of the three distinct pollen seasons, many people in Austin suffer with allergy symptoms year-round.
Allergy Symptom Preventions You Can Do Today:
- Wash your hair every night and take a shower before you go to bed. Pollens and other allergens can get in your hair and on your skin, transferring to your sheets and pillowcases when you lay down to sleep at night. By washing your hair before bed, you can reduce your exposure to the allergens.
- HEPA Filters. A type of mechanical air filter that traps harmful particles such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites and tobacco smoke. It can be very helpful in reducing allergen exposure at home. Pillow and mattress covers can also help to reduce in home exposure.
- Avoid fans to cool rooms, use the air conditioner/heater which pulls air through the HEPA filters to reduce allergen exposure in the home.
- Keep windows closed when driving, and put car a/c on recirculation instead of fresh air setting. This reduces the amount of pollen ad other allergens from entering the vehicle. If necessary, limit time outdoors when allergen counts are the highest.
- Nasal Irrigation. Rinse 2-3x daily and help wash away inhaled allergens, as well as treat sinus congestion. Also, it is a great way to prevent sinus infections.
These methods plus avoiding carpet or have cleaned regularly and keeping pets out of sleeping areas are all great ways to reduce allergen exposure.
So, what exactly is an allergy?
An allergy is an overaggressive immune response triggered by ingesting certain foods, touching certain substances, or inhaling an irritant, such as pollen or animal dander. Many people think it is a result of having a weak immune system but it is actually your immune system working really well. Substances capable of causing allergic symptoms are called “allergens.” Allergy symptoms may develop at any age, and often depend on frequency and quantity of exposure to allergen. This is why many people living in central Texas over a period will develop allergy symptoms.
Common symptoms of allergies are sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy, watery eyes and nose, rashes, fatigue, and headache. For some people, these symptoms are seasonal, but if constantly exposed to allergens, symptoms can be year-round and significantly affect a person’s health and quality of life.
Some Common Allergens:
- Inhalants (pollens, house dust, animal dander, mold, chemicals)
- Ingested Allergens (foods, beverages, additives, medications)
- Injected substances (drugs, vaccines, insect bites)
Medications for allergy sufferers include antihistamines, decongestants, and, when severe enough, corticosteroids. Common side effects of these medications are elevated blood pressure, drowsiness, dizziness, headache, nervousness, difficulty sleeping, dry mouth, and nose (which can then cause bloody noses). For many people, the medications do a poor job of managing symptoms and create unpleasant side effects.