The first day of Spring is officially one week away but living in Southern California makes no difference to us. But sure enough, the signs are starting to show. The sky is showing a clear blue, flowers are starting to bloom and, of course, the tell tale sign– pollen is in the air. Spring ushers in a feeling of renewal– as well as itchy eyes and ears and sneezing every ten feet. We can’t even rely on the rain washing the pollen away.
Every time March comes around, I equip myself with Claritin and nasal sprays (yes, plural), ready to go at the first sign of pollen. Nothing can ruin a spring day more than being so preoccupied with incessant sneezing and watering eyes that you can’t enjoy it. Like many others, I’ve spent my entire life with short-term solutions designed to relieve allergy symptoms for a mere 24 hours. That process can get tiring– day in and day out. Eventually, you start to wonder if there’s something more that can be done. Are we poor allergy sufferers doomed to a lifetime of dreading each spring?
As far as being outside and exposed to pollen, there’s a couple options that can help ease symptoms: antihistamines, nasal sprays, allergy eye drops and allergy shots to name a few. Besides an allergy shot, most of the remedies are temporary, targeted to ease symptoms when pollen is present. But what about when you’re at home? Just because pollen comes from trees and weeds outside doesn’t mean it stays outside. Pollen can be carried into your home by pets and clothing or drift in through open doors and windows. Mix that with other allergens, like dust, in your home and you’ve got yourself a recipe for misery.
One solution that helps inside the home is using a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers bring down the moisture level in your home, making it hard for dust mites, mold and mildew to grow. Dehumidifiers (as well as air purifiers) also kill pollen spores and other allergens in the air.
Another method, however obvious, is just doing the laundry. New washing machines now feature a previously unseen function called Allergy or Allergen cycle. During this cycle, internal heating elements increase water temperature to over 130 degrees. The high heat kills allergens, like pollen, that irritate skin and trigger allergy symptoms. Toss in anything from clothing to bedding, as long as it’s able to withstand the high heat, and it’ll come out allergen-free.
It’s at least some peace of mind to know that even though you can’t control the pollen count outside (God forbid if there’s a breeze), you’ll at least be able to find some comfort at home.