Bathroom Briefs Your line to good health! Developed by: Health Promotion & Disease Prevention Section, Forsyth County Department of Public Health April 2007 pringtime is a great time of year to go outside and enjoy the flowers, take a walk, or work in the yard. However, for those suffering with hay fever, springtime can be anything but fun. Seasonal allergic rhinitis, often referred to as “hay fever,” affects more than 35 million people in the United States. These seasonal allergies are caused by substances called allergens. Airborne pollens and mold spores are outdoor allergens that commonly trigger symptoms during the spring and fall. Common symptoms of hay fever: • • • • Sneezing Congestion Itchy and watery eyes Itchy ears, nose, throat or roof of the mouth S Achoo! Hay Fever If your allergies bother you a lot and you cannot avoid the things you are allergic to, you and your doctor can decide if you should get allergy shots (immunotherapy) to help control your symptoms. For allergy shots to work, you need to know what you are allergic to. Allergy Prevention Dos and Don’ts DO minimize early morning activity when pollen is usually emitted-between 5-10 a.m. DO keep your car windows closed when traveling. DO keep windows closed at night to prevent pollens or molds from drifting into your home. Instead, if needed, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools, and dries the air. What triggers allergies? DO try to stay indoors when the pollen count or humidity is reported to be high, and on windy days when dust and pollen are blown about. DO take a vacation during the height of the pollen season to a more pollen-free area, such as the beach or sea. DO take medications prescribed by your allergist/ immunologist regularly, in the recommended dosage. DON’T take more medication than recommended in an attempt to lessen your symptoms. DON’T mow lawns or be around freshly cut grass; mowing stirs up pollens and molds. DON’T rake leaves, as this also stirs up molds. DON’T hang sheets or clothing out to dry. Pollens and molds may collect in them. DON’T grow too many, or overwater, indoor plants if you are allergic to mold. Wet soil encourages mold growth. For more information, contact your primary care provider or allergist. You probably know that pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds cause hay fever. Many people also have allergies to dust mites, animal dander, cockroaches, and mold, as well. Things in the workplace, such as cereal grain, wood dust, chemicals, or lab animals, can also cause allergic rhinitis. If you are allergic to pollens, you may have symptoms only at certain times of the year. If you are allergic to dust mites and indoor allergens, you may have symptoms all the time. One of the best things you can do is to avoid the things that cause your allergies. You may need to clean your house often to get rid of dust, animal dander, or molds. Or you may need to stay indoors when pollen counts are high. Unless you have another health condition, such as asthma, you may be able to treat your allergy symptoms at home with medicines you can buy without a prescription. If you do have another health problem or are taking prescription medication, talk to your doctor first. Others who also should talk to their doctor before starting self-treatment include older adults, children, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. If home treatments do not help or the over-thecounter medicines make you sleepy or cause other side effects that bother you, then your doctor can prescribe medicines. These medicines can relieve your allergy symptoms with fewer side effects than over-thecounter medicines. Finding the treatment that works best for you may take a little time. You may need to try several medicines before you find the one that works for you.