Any time allergy season hits, it’s usually met with dread by people that are more prone or susceptible to the different allergens that permeate the air during that time. One of the most notorious culprits of outdoor allergies is pollen that comes from flowers, trees, grass and weeds. Also high on the “most wanted list” are mold spores, as they can wreak havoc on peoples’ sinuses as well during allergy season. The reaction to these outdoor allergens is commonly known as Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis (or SAR for short, which is not to be confused with the much more severe SARS virus, as it stands for something completely different). As a side note, every time I see the word “rhinitis” I think about a rhinoceros, but that’s a different topic for a different time. At any rate, the symptoms of outdoor allergies are runny nose, sniffles, watery, red or itchy eyes, conjunctivitis, irritations to the skin such as rashes or breakouts of a similar order, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and even tightness in the chest which can even cause shortness of breath in some cases. In more extreme respiratory reactions, some people’s allergic reactions have triggered asthma attacks. Ears can also be affected in the form of blockage of the eustachian tube (due to lack of proper drainage), which can lead to that “stuffy” feeling, and even slightly impaired hearing as a result. Some allergic symptoms, if left unchecked, can snowball into sinusitis, which is a very harsh reaction of the sinuses to allergens that are present in the air we breathe. Other people feel the symptoms more in their “gut”—meaning, they experience bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and other abdominal discomforts. Even vomiting has been reported with some people. Going back to the skin problems that can result from outdoor allergies, there are cases of people breaking out with hives and even eczema due to the body’s reaction to the allergens found outdoors.
Outdoor Allergies: Possible Preventative Measures
One thing to come to grips with as it regards outdoor allergies is that you can never fully rid the air of the allergens…sorry to say it, folks, but the outdoors are not going to go away. In situations like this, you have to recognize what’s in your control, and what’s completely out of your control. You cannot possibly control what all is floating around in the air you breathe outdoors, but you can control some of your preparations and reactions to these outdoor allergens. One thing that can be a quick improvement to your immediate air quality is to make sure that your shrubbery and other plant life immediately surrounding your home stay neatly trimmed and under control. The more you properly maintain these things, the better off you’ll be as far as keeping allergens from insects and plant spores to a reasonable minimum. Also, whenever you’re using equipment outdoors such as garden hoses, lawnmowers, shovels or rakes, etc., clean them well before bringing them back inside for storage. Make sure that you remind your children to wash their hands and clean up before coming inside, and especially to stomp out or wipe their shoes off before entering the home. Also use air conditioning instead of keeping the windows open; this will help “clean” the air and keep harmful allergens from blowing into the house on a breezy day. If you have pets, make sure that they are brushed and well-cleaned before the enter back into the house; many times pet dander (especially on pets that like to hang out outdoors) can wreak havoc on a person’s sinuses. You may also have to pay someone to do your yard work for you (i.e., mowing, raking, etc.) due to the fact that such work can stir up a lot of allergenic substances that are present in your yard. And when all else fails, as impractical as it may often be, do your best to stay indoors most of the time during allergy season. Hopefully these tips will aid you in staving off and possibly preventing some of the discomfort that can come from having outdoor allergies.