Opening the windows and enjoying the fresh spring air is a great way to push those winter blues out of your home. Spring is the time to take long walks, enjoy your patio and just enjoy the great outdoors. Unless, of course, you suffer from seasonal allergies. The sneezing, runny nose, water eyes and coughing from the pollen coating your car, house and deck isn’t quite refreshing. If you suffer from spring allergies, these tips can help you manage them and allow you to actually get outside to breathe in that fresh air.

Is It Really Allergies?

If you are finding yourself coughing and sneezing but have never had problems with spring pollen before, it is possible you do not have allergies at all, but could have a cold or virus. If your congestion lasts for more than two weeks, you are more than likely suffering from allergies. If your nose, eyes or the roof of your mouth itch, allergies may also be the culprit. Allergies also create clear, thin mucus and will worsen after you are exposed to an allergen, like if a relaxing night in an outdoor hot tub leads to a day of coughing and sneezing. If it is a cold or virus, you should also have a fever, aches, pains and other symptoms beyond a runny nose and cough.

Over the Counter Relief

Today, there are many options available that fight allergies. However, it may take a combination of medication to get your symptoms under control. Talk to your doctor, but it may be possible for you to take antihistamines and decongestants at the same time to get relief. In fact, some allergy medications already have both as ingredients. You may also need to try more than one brand as not all brands work the same on all people. There are also prescription medications available that may not have the side-effects and are longer-lasting than over-the-counter medications. If you don’t like the way medications make you feel, consider using saline nasal sprays or rinse your nostrils with a neti pot filled with salt water. Gargling with salt water can also soothe a scratchy throat. Using saline spray or salt water two or three times a day throughout allergy season can ease your symptoms.

Keep Clothes and Shoes Outside

If you spend a lot of time outside, either for leisure activity or work, remove your shoes outside your home and toss your clothes in a hamper with a lid as soon as you arrive home. If you have an entrance that you can close off or a utility room, place your hamper in that room and keep the door closed to avoid bringing allergens inside with you. Shower as soon as you get home to remove pollen and, if you have pets, wipe their paws and fur before they come inside as they can also drag pollen inside.

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Workout Inside if Counts Are High

If you are a jogger or like to walk for fitness, consider moving your workout indoors if pollen counts are high. Check pollen counts online or watch your local news to determine if you should take that run or walk outside. Hit the gym to walk the treadmill or purchase one for home use. You can even slip in an exercise DVD to get your workout completed without exposing yourself to pollen. Because pollen is highest in the mid-afternoon, run errands first thing in the morning or after work when counts are lower.

Air Conditioning or Windows?

Deciding whether you should use your air conditioner or open windows may depend on the type of allergies you have. If you are experiencing symptoms when you are outside or have been outside for a while, you won’t want to bring the outdoor allergens inside. Use your air conditioning to keep the air filtered. Turning on the air conditioner does not mean you need to lower the temperature significantly in your home. Set the temperature close to the outdoor temperature so that it doesn’t come on as often, but will still filter allergens. On the other hand, if you are allergic to dust and mold, opening windows can actually reduce your symptoms as it brings in fresh air that will help eliminate allergens from your home.

Consider Using a Mask

If nothing seems to help your allergy symptoms, consider wearing a mask when you must be outside. Look for masks marked N95 as they meet the standards of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. The 95 indicates that they filter out 95 percent of particles in the air that may be causing your allergy symptoms.

One thing you should never do is ignore your allergies as they can lead to serious complications, including asthma. If you are unable to get relief, talk to your doctor about possible testing and autoimmune injections that can reduce or even eliminate your symptoms.

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. For your outdoor hot tub needs, Hannah recommends Bullfrog Spas.

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