- Created on April 2nd, 2008
- By Journey to Wellness
Allergies and Asthma are on the rise in African-American communities, nationwide. Sniff. Cough. Sneeze. Wipe. And if you live in a city like I do where the average pollen count on a spring day is 1200 or above, I bet you're doing all of the above...a lot! City or country dwellers, most Black people have seen springtime pollen cover outdoor objects with a pea green dust. While that type of pollen may not cause an allergic reaction, it does show how pervasive most pollen spores are, whether we can see them or not. Even if you're not a regular allergy sufferer, a high pollen count can make life miserable for a short period or for the whole season.
The pollen count measures how much dust from common allergens is in a cubic foot of air. Contaminants like dandelion, ragweed, grass and sycamore spores, among many others, fill the air we breathe and produce symptoms that include itchy eyes and throat, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, burning, runny eyes and nose, sinusitis, pounding headaches and, in extreme cases, even rashes and hives.
If you suffer from allergies during the spring, summer or fall you need all the relief you can get. And surprisingly, you can get relief without drugs. Simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference in your comfort level and are absolutely free. Try these suggestions:
- During pollen season, stay indoors unless you MUST go out. Your hermit–like behavior will protect you from environmental allergens, particularly during the hours of 10 AM to 4 PM. If you must drive, keep car windows rolled up.
- When outside keep hair tucked under a hat or scarf. As soon as you return home, change and launder clothes immediately then shower and shampoo. Pollen clings to hair and fiber. Pollen–filled hair and clothing will keep you sneezing for hours and will also contaminate bedding so you get a continuous dose of allergens while you sleep. Scrub up!
- During spring and summer remove and store heavy draperies and area rugs. They attract and hold dust.
- Shut pollen out. Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible. Move your bed away from windows and use the air conditioner for circulation. Investing in an air purifier is also a good idea.
If your mild allergy symptoms don’t subside once you’ve taken these simple steps, or if your symptoms are too far–gone to benefit from lifestyle changes only, you may need to take more aggressive action. Consider medical testing to isolate the specific allergens that affect you. Testing can be a lengthy and tedious process, but one well worth the investment of time considering the years of relief that will follow.
After testing, your doctor may prescribe a shot of epinephrine to help offset severe allergic attacks. This medicine comes in a pocket–sized container that looks like a pen and provides immediate relief.
Allergy shots are also an option. Like vaccines, they introduce small amounts of allergens into the body so a gradual immunity can be formed. The thought of frequent injections is unsettling, but this therapy offers a level of relief not found elsewhere. Since allergies have no cure, it’s useful to employ medicines whose effectiveness is guaranteed. These medical options may be appropriate for seasonal allergies as well as allergies to food, chemicals or insect bites.
If you opt to seek relief on your own, use over the counter medicines with caution.
Allergies have staying power, so it’s important to explore the right combination of lifestyle changes, medical options and do–it–yourself remedies that will work for you. Whatever your choice, don’t suffer! Allergies can be controlled.