Is Your Town Making You Sneeze?
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you know what it’s like to deal with a runny nose, sneezing, coughing and watery eyes for several months of the year. But are you more miserable than other allergy and asthma sufferers just because of where you live? Your town could be making you sneeze if you’re sensitive to the trees, grasses and weeds pollinating just outside your window.
Allergy Capitals of America
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, some cities are worse for seasonal allergies than others. Each year, the foundation releases a Top 10 list of the most challenging places to live for people who have spring and fall allergies. Each annual report takes pollen counts, allergy medication use and the number of allergists per patient into account. The list changes a little each year, but here are the cities that consistently make the top 10:
- Jackson, Mississippi
- Wichita, Kansas
- Dayton, Ohio
- Louisville, Kentucky
- Knoxville, Tennessee
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Chattanooga, Tennessee
- McAllen, Texas
- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that 40 million American adults and children suffer from nasal allergies, and more are diagnosed every year. If you’re among this population, living in one of these “allergy capitals” can make life in the spring and fall quite miserable.
Reducing Outdoor Allergy Symptoms
Regardless of where you live, you can take steps every day to manage your symptoms and reduce exposure to outdoor allergens that heighten in the spring and fall. Follow these tips from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
- Limit outdoor activities: The best way to prevent allergy symptoms is to avoid what you’re allergic to in the first place. By limiting your time outdoors when pollen counts are high, you reduce the amount of pollen you inhale. You should also limit your time around animals that spend a lot of time outdoors.
- Wear sunglasses and a hat: When you must be outside during high pollen count times, sunglasses help keep pollen out of your eyes while a hat keeps pollen off your hair.
- Change your clothes and take a shower: On days when you spend a lot of time outside, change your clothes when you come back in. Then wash your body and hair sometime before bed to prevent transferring pollen to your sheets and mattress.
- Keep windows closed: During pollen season, avoid opening windows to keep allergens from entering your home. To stay comfortable, run the air conditioner instead.
- Use a high-efficiency filter: Your A/C will work harder to remove pollen and other allergens from the air if you fit it with a more efficient filter.
- Run an air purifier: The bedroom is typically the most effective place for an air purifier, where it can clean the air while you sleep.
- Wash bedding regularly: Despite your best efforts, some allergens are bound to end up in your bedding. Wash the sheets in hot water once a week to prevent allergens from accumulating. Dry bedding and clothes in the dryer, not on an outdoor clothes line.
- Clean often: Vacuum and dust your home once or twice per week to remove pollen and other allergens from the carpet and other horizontal surfaces.
- Keep on top of your medication: Anticipate allergy season and begin taking medicine before any symptoms appear. Most allergy medications work best when they can prevent your body from releasing histamines in the first place. Once you start experiencing symptoms, it may be too late to fully reverse them with medication.
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