Why We Get Seasonal Complications in Spring and How We Can Combat Them
Spring is full of budding flowers, extended daylight hours, and warmer weather. However, for those with seasonal complications, spring may equal misery. All of the new flowers and budding trees that emerge in spring bring a wave of pollen, which, for some, also means runny noses, watery eyes, and sneezing.
What Causes Seasonal Discomfort?
Most people who start to sniffle and sneeze in spring are experiencing an immune system overreaction to a harmless substance. In the spring, that harmless substance is most often pollen.
The tiny grains of pollen allow trees and flowers to reproduce. While some plants rely on insects to spread their pollen, others use wind. Pollen can spread for miles, so even if you’re in an area that seems to be relatively free of pollen-producing trees, it may still cause a response.
Moving to a different area or even a different climate rarely helps those who sniffle and sneeze their way through spring. However, pollen is part of plant life and exists everywhere.
While pollen is the most common cause of spring misery, it’s not the only cause. For example, some sniffle sufferers react to mold spores, starting in spring.
What Are Common Symptoms?
Those whose bodies identify pollen, mold, or other harmless substances as a potential invader often experience some, if not all, of the following symptoms:
- Red, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Sinus congestion
- Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
- Puffy eyes or face
The body’s immune response to pollen or mold uses the mucus membranes to flush the substances out of the system.
Combating Seasonal Sensitivities
While pollen may cause your misery, it’s vital for plant reproduction. Therefore, even those with the strongest reactions to pollen need to coexist with it to a certain extent. However, there are ways to reduce your suffering without medicating yourself into brain fog. Try these simple steps to keep your reactions under control:
Exposure to some pollen is inevitable, but the less pollen you breathe in, the less of a reaction your body may experience. Some ways to limit your pollen exposure include:
- Remove clothes worn outside
- Shower frequently to rinse pollen from skin and hair
- Don’t hang clothes or laundry outside to dry
- Keep windows closed
- Wash clothes and bed linens regularly
- Take off shoes before entering your home
- Vacuum regularly
To limit exposure, some pollen sufferers may delegate outdoor chores, such as mowing and weed pulling, but not everyone has that option. You may want to invest in a pollen mask if you need to work in your garden.
Monitor Pollen Levels
Local TV and radio stations or a quick internet search can supply pollen forecasts and current pollen levels. Factoring in the projected pollen levels when you're planning any outdoor activities can help you enjoy your time outside.
Understanding the climate factors that can amplify pollen levels helps manage your exposure. These include:
- Pollen levels usually peak in the morning
- Rain washes pollen away, but pollen counts can soar after rainfall
- Cool nights and warm days cause an increase in tree, grass, and ragweed pollen
- Windy and warm days are the worst for those who react to pollen
While it may be a hassle to plan your spring days around the pollen counts, it may be worth it if your reaction to pollen is severe.
Manage Your Discomfort
A supplement like Quality of Life’s doctor-formulated Allerfin® can help you manage the distress that comes with your body’s reaction to pollen.* Allerfin® targets all three of the body’s main points of irritation: the sinuses, lungs, and eyes, without the drowsiness and brain fog that comes with antihistamines.*
Allerfin®’s holistic formula supports the health of the nasal passageways, the bronchial passageways, and the health and comfort of the eyes.* Those who suffer from their body’s response to pollen praise Allerfin® for relieving their cough, itchy eyes, and nasal challenges in springtime.*
Keep Indoor Air Pollen-free
When pollen counts are high, your home can truly feel like a refuge. You can maintain the purity of your indoor air by:
- Keeping windows closed, if possible
- Using a dehumidifier to keep indoor air dry
- If you have air conditioning, use high-efficiency filters
- Regularly change your air conditioning filters
- Use a portable, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom
While it may be impossible to entirely block all pollen from your home, taking measures to reduce the amount of pollen in the air can help tremendously.
Home Treatments for Seasonal Discomfort
Several home treatments offer relief for those who experience adverse reactions to changing seasons. These include:
To experience the benefits of steam inhalation, place a bowl of boiling water on a table, cover your head, face, and the bowl with a towel, and breathe in the steam.
Breathing in steam may help ease irritation in the nasal passages and soothe swollen blood vessels. The moisture in the steam may also thin your sinus mucus, reducing congestion.
Nasal irrigation is a process where you can clear out your nasal passages by flushing them with a saline solution. You can perform nasal irrigation through a prefilled container, a bulb syringe, or a neti pot.
You can either buy a saline solution powder or make your own by mixing 1-2 cups of warm distilled or sterile water and ¼ to ½ teaspoon of non-iodized salt with a pinch of baking soda.
Standing over a sink, tilt your head to a 45-degree angle so that one nostril is pointed down over the sink, and then, keeping your mouth open, pour the saline solution into one nostril, letting it flow through to the other nostril and into the sink.
Spit out any water that gets into your mouth, gently blow your nose, and repeat as necessary.
Nasal irrigation eases the inflammatory response in the sinus passages and clears mucus and any irritants.
Salt Water Gargle
Gargling with salt water is a time-tested solution for those experiencing an itchy, sore throat. Dissolve ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt into 8 ounces of warm water, and then gargle the mixture a few sips at a time. This process can remove some irritants from the throat, providing symptomatic relief.
While pollen is instrumental in the health of plants, it can be miserable for those who suffer from its irritating effects. However, by limiting exposure, monitoring pollen levels, and managing your discomfort, you may be able to stop and smell the flowers this spring.