Tips for coping with seasonal allergies

Seasonal allergies affect as many as 30% of all South Africans, but there are ways to limit the discomfort they cause.

Spring means warmer weather, but for some it can also be a season of intense discomfort caused by allergies. An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system when your body over-reacts to an allergen (ranging from food to common medicines, dust and pollen) and causes an inflammatory response in your body.
“Seasonal allergies affect as many as 30% of all South Africans,” says Dr Kgosi Letlape, Dettol’s representative and member of the Global Hygiene Council.

ALSO SEE: How to spot an allergy in your child

Try these tips to limit seasonal allergy discomfort:

Pollen

For many people the change from winter to spring can bring about sneezing, wheezing, coughing, snorting and itching due to the increased pollen count in the air. Allergic rhinitis, better known as hay fever, is caused by outdoor allergens, including pollen and certain weeds, grasses and trees.

Tips to minimise your discomfort:

  • Wash your hands and face thoroughly when you go indoors to remove any pollen that may have come into contact with your skin.
  • Wipe surfaces with cleaning products that are proven to remove allergens.
  • Keep windows and doors closed on warm, dry days when the pollen count is generally high.
  • Avoid grassy, open spaces, and wear glasses or sunglasses to prevent pollen spores from coming into contact with your eyes.

Mould

Mould releases tiny spores into the air, which when breathed in, may cause allergic reactions. Certain kinds of mould can be seen with the naked eye but others are invisible. Mould thrives in damp, warm and humid environments like bathrooms, refrigerators and musty cupboards.

Tips to minimise your discomfort:

  • Clean problem areas such as refrigerator door seals and shower curtains with a trusted cleaning agent.
  • Keep your home dry and ventilated.

Dust mites

Have you ever felt itchy or had difficulty breathing during or immediately after vacuuming, sweeping and dusting? This may be due to a dust allergy. Symptoms of dust allergies include wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. Dust mites are the most common trigger and are often found in pillows, mattresses, carpeting and upholstered furniture.

Tips to minimise your discomfort:

  • Remove carpets, especially in the bedroom.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom and preferably out of the house.
  • Minimise the humidity in your home by opening windows or finding other ways of increasing ventilation.
  • Wash your bed linen frequently in hot water.

Pets

While we love our furry friends, many people are allergic to animal fur. Pets shed dander, which is a combination of dead skin cells and hair (or feathers), which can trigger asthma attacks and other allergic reactions in some people. If you are allergic to animal fur or feathers, removing them from your home is the most effective solution, but if this isn’t possible you can try the following steps:

  • Damp-wipe household surfaces and floors with products that are proven to remove pet allergens.
  • Keep pets outside the home or at least outside the bedroom.
  • Keep pets off carpets and soft furniture or vacuum and wash carpets and upholstery often.

ALSO SEE: Everything you need to know about food allergies when weaning your baby

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