WEST SPRINGFIELD — Flowers are blooming, the breeze is blowing, and the grass needs mowing — the perfect storm for seasonal allergy sufferers. Hay-fever sufferers know that the term ‘hay fever’ is a misnomer. It’s a common term actually used to describe a wide range of allergies that can be triggered by anything from grass and flowers to dust mites and even pet dander.
Dr. Vincent Meoli, regional medical director of AFC Urgent Care, the largest urgent-care provider in the Commonwealth, says the summer often makes these allergies worse. “We spend more time outdoors, and throughout the season, everything is blooming. From tree pollen in the spring to grass pollen in the late spring and summer, to ragweed in the fall, allergy season in New England lasts many months.”
It’s not possible to avoid all of these allergens, but there are ways to reduce exposure, and thus the symptoms, in the summer:
• Keep doors and windows closed during peak pollen periods. Use air conditioning in the house and car to stay comfortable instead, and be sure to clean the filters regularly.
• Don’t hang laundry outside to dry. Pollen and other allergens will cling to sheets, towels, and clothes.
• Avoid mowing the lawn or raking. Wear a dust mask when gardening.
• Pollen counts are highest in the morning, so plan outdoor events for later in the day.
• Keep pets off furniture and bedding, and bathe dogs more frequently. In addition to their dander, they pick up pollen and other allergens when outdoors.
Despite the best efforts of seasonal-allergy sufferers, they may need to rely on over-the-counter or prescription medications.
“If you have seasonal allergies, the symptoms can be as bad as those with a cold, including runny nose and congestion; sneezing; itchy, red, watery eyes; coughing; a scratchy throat; and more — all of which leads to fatigue, because your body is trying to fight off what it thinks is an attack,” Meoli said. “When you have seasonal allergies, all you want is for your symptoms to go away.”
If this sounds familiar, Meoli urges suffers to talk to their doctors about relief. Help is also available seven days a week without an appointment at AFC Urgent Care.