Spring is a beautiful season filled with blooming trees and sunny days after months of winter. However, spring can also be a time that many people dread because of something unique to this time of year: spring allergies.
Some allergens (particles that cause allergies) are easily spotted, like pollen floating in the air or pet hair on a friend’s sweater. In these cases, it’s easy to explain why your eyes are itching or why you can’t stop sneezing.
However, not all airborne allergens are so visible — and not all of them stay outside. In fact, in about 50 percent of homes in the US, there are at least six detectable allergens in the environment, and the air in our homes can be five times less healthy than outdoor air.
But don’t worry! There are definitely things that you can do to protect yourself from potentially irritating allergens, whether you’re out appreciating the weather or relaxing indoors.
Hopefully, this post will not only inform you about spring allergens, but also empower you to protect both you and your home so that you can enjoy the rest of this wonderful season.
How Do Allergies Happen?
Even if you don’t suffer from allergies, you’re probably familiar with what they look (and sound) like: congestion, postnasal drip, conjunctivitis (irritated, red-rimmed eyes), coughing, and lots of sneezing. But why does your body react like this?
Under normal circumstances, our immune system will produce antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which rush to cells affected by infections, viruses, and diseases. The physical symptoms we normally associate with sickness are actually our bodies trying to expel foreign particles from our body.
However, in the case of an allergic reaction, our immune system treats an otherwise harmless substance as a threat to the body. It falsely sends IgE to sites like your nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, or skin in attempt to get rid of the allergens. The result is a bodily overreaction that many of us have experienced before.
The allergic process may be the same regardless of what the allergen is, but different allergens get into your home in different ways — so they may require different kinds of precautions.
The most popular spring allergen is pollen, so that’s what we’ll focus on here. If you’re interested in learning more about other common indoor allergens, check out our other posts about pet dander and dust mites/bed bugs!
What is it?
Pollen is a substance that is produced during the flowering process of plants, which is why allergies spike during spring. Pollen particles are incredibly light and not always visible, making them ideal for getting stuck in places you’d least expect, such as:
You. Although you may limit your outdoor exposure, even brief encounters with the outdoor air gives pollen a chance to latch onto your clothing, which leads to it getting into your home. It can also get stuck in your hair!
Pets. If pollen can get into your clothes and hair, then it can also get into your pet’s coat when they play in the pollen-filled grass outside.
Windows. If your windows are open at all, even if it’s only to your garage, there is a chance you are letting pollen into your home.
What should you do about it?
It may be obvious to avoid the outdoors if you have a pollen allergy. However, over time, pollen can build up in your home in ways that are more difficult to deal with than if you were to brave the (much less contained) outdoors.
Here are 7 tips for dealing with Spring allergies:
- Change your clothes when you get home, and don’t wear your outdoor shoes for longer than you have to. Doing laundry more frequently would also be good — pollen can stay in your clothes, even if they’re already in your dirty laundry basket.
- Take a shower before entering your bed. Just like your clothes, your hair can trap pollen throughout the day — so don’t offer your pillowcases or bed sheets as new places for allergens to settle.
- Clean your pets before they enter your home. As lovable as they are, your pets can bring in parts of the outdoors that you don’t love as much. A damp cloth works best to catch — not spread — pollen particles they may have picked up while rolling in the grass or running around.
- Keep your windows closed. If it feels too warm, opt for air conditioning before opening windows. That air is circulating in a closed system that will expose you to less pollen-filled air.
- Regularly vacuum, dust, and clean your surfaces. When you empty your vacuum or dispose of cleaning supplies, do so outside to avoid redistributing what you worked so hard to get out of your home.
- Think about replacing wall-to-wall carpeting with hard floors and regularly cleaning any rugs. Unfortunately, allergens can get trapped in even the most comfortable surfaces.
- Cleanse and monitor the air in your personal space to remove allergens. Larger pollen particles will settle on a surface until it they are disturbed and made airborne again through dusting, and smaller particles can be found floating around your home for hours after they enter. Wynd Plus is an air quality sensor and purifier in one. The purifier is the size of a water bottle, so you can bring it with you to work, place it on your night stand, and take it with you while you travel. The Wynd Air Quality Tracker intelligently monitors the air around you, while the purifier’s medical grade filter is one of the best ways to remove indoor pollen and other sources of spring allergies.
Allergies are already hard enough to deal with, and you should be able to count on your home as a safe zone. Keeping your indoor surfaces and air clean is the best way to protect your health while enjoying all of the best parts of spring.
This article was also posted on our Medium.