Tips to Help Manage Spring Allergies

It’s not your imagination—spring allergies are worse in the Triad area, according to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America (AAFA). AAFA has ranked Winston-Salem and Greensboro as one of the most challenging places to live for spring allergy sufferers in the United States.

Cities were evaluated on their pollen score and allergy medication usage.

“The Triad area offers a wide variety of trees and other pollen-producing plants that create higher than average pollen scores when compared to other cities around the country,” said James Whitman Mims, MD, associate professor of otolaryngology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “Simple tweaks to a daily routine can help manage these allergens.”

Mims offered tips to help control and reduce exposure to allergens.

Reduce Exposure to Allergy Triggers

  • Stay inside midday and during the afternoon, when pollen counts are highest.
  • Take a shower, wash hair and change clothes after working or playing outdoors.
  • Wear a N95 dust/particulate filter mask when mowing the lawn or doing other outdoor chores.
  • Avoid hanging laundry outside — pollen can stick to items.
  • Sunglasses can help reduce eye irritation from pollen.
  • Close doors and windows when pollen counts are high.

Over-the-counter Remedies

Antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching, a runny nose and watery eyes.

  • While diphenhydramine (Benadryl) is the most commonly recognized antihistamine, doctors recommend trying less-sedating antihistamines including loratadine, fexofenadine and cetirizine for allergies.
  • Decongestants come in oral and nasal spray form and offer temporary relief from nasal stuffiness.
  • Nasal steroid sprays work well for nasal pollen allergies. Daily use through the pollen season is often most effective.

For some, over-the-counter medications and avoiding allergens are not enough to ease symptoms. Those who suffer from severe allergies should speak to their physician about prescription drugs or consult with an allergist about completing immunotherapy (allergy shots) which can help reduce symptoms.

“It’s important to take medicine early and prevent the symptoms before they begin," said Mims. "If you take medicine after the symptoms are in full force, it's much harder to stop the allergic reaction than to prevent it from the beginning."