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This Allergy Season is One of the Worst

Do you or your clients suffer from seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis or spring allergies?  If so, are you feeling more severe symptoms this year in comparison with years past?  It may not be your imagination!   The U.S. News and World Report reported earlier in 2014 that because of last winter’s prolonged freezing temperatures in parts of the U.S., allergy sufferers may be more miserable this year than usual.  Read their report A Survival Guide to Spring Allergy Season by Angela Haupt to learn some simple strategies that may help to make you feel better:

“1. Don't stop to smell the flowers. Yes, they're pretty, but sniffing a daffodil or tulip could aggravate your symptoms. Fragrances and pollen from star jasmine, narcissus, gardenia and lily of the valley are most likely to make you sneeze. Allergy-friendly plants and flowers include gladiolus, periwinkle, begonia, bougainvillea, iris and orchid, says Clifford Bassett, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York.

2. Wash your hair. Your hair is a pollen magnet, so take care not to pollinate your house when you go indoors. If you fall asleep with pollen in your hair, it will attach to your pillow, potentially causing nighttime allergy flare-ups. "Wash your hair before you go to bed at night, so it's not trapped right next to your nose, where you're inhaling it," says Joseph Leija, an allergist at Loyola University Health System's Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, Illinois. Go a step further by washing bed linens at least once a week in 130-degree F water, which will rid your bed of pollen and kill dust mite eggs – another symptom trigger.

3. Don't line dry. Hanging laundry outside is a surefire way to capture allergens. Pollen will easily stick to linens, towels and whatever else is on the line. If you must air dry, do so indoors.

4. Eat right. You can fight allergies with your diet. Vitamin C-rich foods have been shown to unblock clogged sinuses, so load up on grapefruit, oranges, kale, mustard greens, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Research suggests that quercetin – found in black tea, green tea, apples, red onions and berries – inhibits the release of histamines, which trigger itching, sneezing, a runny nose and watery eyes. And pineapple and papaya contain bromelain, a mixture of enzymes thought to improve seasonal allergy symptoms.

5. Wear sunglasses. "Be a movie star," Bassett says. Wearing oversized shades can "block out pesky pollens from getting into your eyes and eyelids." Also smart? Sport a pollen mask and gloves while you're outside, and avoid touching your face and eyes.

6. Forget the fan. Beat the heat with air conditioning, not fans. Window fans can invite pesky pollen and mold spores into your home. When you're in the car, you should likewise keep cool with AC. Sorry, sunroof!

7. Stay inside. Stay indoors as much as possible, Leija suggests. Rather than running outside, for example, take your exercise routine to the nearest gym. Since plants typically pollinate in the early-morning hours, it's particularly important to postpone outside activity until after 12 p.m. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology's National Allergy Bureau displays pollen and mold counts for every area in the country on its website. When levels are particularly high, you'll know to take extra steps to limit your time outside. The highest pollen levels are typically recorded on warm, dry and windy days, while the lowest are on windless, wet and cloudy days.

8. Maintain the dog. When your golden retriever frolics in the grass, he collects allergens such as mold and pollen. Wash his paws before allowing him back into the house.

9. Leave your shoes at the door. It's not just your dog who tracks allergens inside the house. Pollens can hitch a ride inside on shoes, so take them off either before stepping foot indoors or immediately upon entry.

10. Try a salty home remedy. Prepare a saltwater nose spray by mixing 8 ounces of water with half a teaspoon of table salt in a squirt bottle. Use it twice a day: when you wake up in the morning and again in the evening. It will clear the allergens out of your nose. Salt water is thought to restore moisture to dry nasal passages, while lessening the inflammation of mucous membranes. You're most likely to benefit if you use it regularly, rather than skipping days here and there.”

Do you want to know more?  Enroll in the 1.0 hour online, CNE, continuing nursing education course “Allergic Rhinitis” or “Allergic Rhinitis for the School Nurse” to learn about the physiology of the condition, diagnostic procedures, pharmaceutical treatments, home maintenance and more.  Courses are appropriate for nurses employed in various settings, including long term care, ambulatory care, acute care, acute care, school nursing and others!

Guest post by Pedagogy author Carrie Bennett MSN,RN-BC,PHN

Carrie Bennett has more than fifteen years of experience as a registered nurse with experience in the fields of orthopedics, long term care, chronic ventilator care and nursing education.  She earned both her BSN and MSN at California State University Dominguez Hills.  She holds certification in public health nursing through the state of California and gerontological nursing with the American Nurses Credentialing Center.  Carrie currently works in nursing education at an acute care hospital and as a clinical instructor at a community college in California. 
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