It’s coming. I can hear the ground shaking. I can feel the air warming. I can see the leaf buds forming and the green stems poking out of the ground.
The allergy train is approaching, kiddos, and it waits for no one.
For those of you who see blooming trees, growing grass and opening flowers as a portent of Doom, I feel you. April and May are 100 percent miserable for those of us who are blessed with an overactive immune system. When you should be focused on your graduation photos, finals and formals, you’ll instead have a blocked nose, itchy ears and an oh-so-charming red-eyed glare.
What’s a student to do? Hopefully, with these six tips, you can avoid (or at least minimize) the misery of the allergy season and – dare I say it? – stop and smell the roses.
1. Avoid your allergy triggers
Peak pollen times are in the morning between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., according to pollen.com. Stay inside during those times and try to limit your contact with the outdoors. Also, pollen can peak just after a spell of light rain (which disperses the particles) or during a very extended dry period. Heavy rain for a long time, along with windy weather, will clear pollen away. Check your local weather station for pollen alerts and peak times. Additionally, avoid walking around pollen-heavy areas (such as forests, gardens and greenways) until the danger zone passes.
2. Start taking your allergy meds NOW
Yes, while there’s still snow on the ground. Before you know it, the thermometer will hit 60 and you’ll feel yourself getting sniffly. By then, it’ll be too late. Allergy medications work on a cumulative level; the more you have in your system before the season starts, the better off you’ll be. If you only start taking meds when you show symptoms, your body will already have kick-started its reaction, which is harder to stop than prevent.
3. Keep your belongings pollen-free
Pollen, like small children, is very clingy. It sticks to clothing, hair, backpacks, bedsheets, curtains, you name it. During peak season, try and change your clothes on a semi-frequent basis if you spend a ton of time outdoors. Change your pillowcase daily and wash your sheets weekly. If you have any cloth hangings or curtains in your room, consider taking them down until the season passes. You may want to wash your hair at the end of the day instead of in the morning. It’ll keep you from bringing pollen into your bed. Consider getting an air filter for your room to keep the nasty stuff at bay as well.
4. Manage your symptoms
When your reaction does kick in, do what you can to keep your misery to a low. Take decongestants if your nose gets mad clogged (though consult with your doctor if you’re taking other meds before doing so). Consider getting an ear-cleaning kit to remove excess wax and deal with itchiness. Diluted hydrogen peroxide is a good one – just don’t use Q-tips! A cool washcloth can help reduce redness and puffiness in your eyes, and a cold shower will help remove pollen and bring down inflammation.
5. Know what works for you
Not all allergy meds and remedies are the same. What might work for you one year might be less effective the next. Your body chemistry and immune system are dynamic and can react differently from season to season. As such, be ready to adapt and have backups. If one method isn’t working for you, move to a different one. As always, check in with your doctor or allergist for recommendations. If over-the-counter stuff is ineffective, consider getting a seasonal allergy shot or a prescription medication.
Marlese Lessing is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com. She tweets @marlese_lessing.