The saying goes that April showers bring May flowers, but no one ever mentions that those May flowers bring pollen, too! For people with outdoor allergies or asthma, the summer can be difficult. Pollen and dust seem to be floating in on every breeze. (And let’s face it, Colorado’s “breezes” can sometimes be much more intense than is comfortable.) So, what can be done to help you have a more enjoyable summer with fewer allergy flare-ups or asthma attacks?
- Upgrade your air filters. Manufacturers suggest changing your air filters every 30-60 days. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, consider replacing your home air filters with a HEPA-designated model. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air and is used to describe filters capable of trapping 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns – in other words, they’re excellent at trapping dust, pollen, and other allergens or irritants. You may also want to upgrade your vacuum cleaner’s air filter to a HEPA filter.
- Consider ditching your carpet. If you’re already using HEPA filters in your home but still have allergy or asthma flare-ups, take a good look at your carpet. The fibers in carpets are notorious traps for dust, allergens, odors, and microorganisms. If your carpet is old, or you find yourself falling behind on tasks like vacuuming and shampooing, consider switching to a non-carpet flooring option such as wood, tile, or linoleum. If you don’t want hard floors, your next best option would be to replace your old carpet with a new, low-pile carpet. Low-pile carpet has shorter, tighter fibers, which helps prevent allergens from being lodged deep in the strands, and are easier to clean.
- Wear a mask. Yes, we know you’re probably excited to get rid of these masks soon and would rather not add another reason to wear them. However, even a simple cloth mask can help filter allergens and irritants from the air, helping to prevent flare-ups. If you’re vaccinated and don’t want to wear a mask outdoors all the time, consider at least wearing one for high-allergen activities like gardening, mowing the lawn, hiking in long grass, or traveling to places with a high pollen count.
- Avoid high-irritant times and places. Apps and websites like weather.com can give you a prediction of the pollen count and air pollution in your area so that you can plan to avoid the most difficult times of day for your allergies or asthma triggers. Sometimes this isn’t possible – the rest of the world certainly won’t wait for the air quality to improve – but this is a strategy that works well for some when planning a run, a picnic with your sweetheart, or a day at the Dunes.
With your Provider:
- If you suspect you may have seasonal allergies or asthma, this is definitely something you should bring up with your healthcare provider. You may need some diagnostic tests to determine the best treatment plan for you, but knowing is half the battle!
- If you’ve already been diagnosed with allergies or asthma and have new or continuing difficulties with your condition, please tell us! We can help – if we know something is wrong. Your provider may be able to adjust any medications you’re taking, add in new ones, or recommend therapies to help you feel more comfortable.
Summer is supposed to be full of fun – not full of sneezing, wheezing, itchy throats, or puffy eyes! Here are some additional resources on allergies and asthma from the Mayo Clinic: