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February 21, 2023

Fight Back Against Spring Allergies: A Guide to Allergy-Proofing Your Texas Home

Fight Back Against Spring Allergies

Preparing for springtime allergies in Texas

With spring just around the corner, there are so many things to look forward to! The days will be getting longer, the temperature will start to rise, and flowers and trees will begin to bloom. For many, the beauty and fragrance of blooming spring florals is a stunning occasion, but for those with allergies, it’s a nightmare. The good news is it doesn’t have to be! With the right proactive steps to prep for spring, you’ll be able spend time outdoors and enjoy all the beauty it brings!

What are common spring allergies in Texas?

Spring allergy season starts around March in Texas. Tree pollen is the largest offender of allergies in the spring. Once spring starts, trees begin to release pollen causing the pollen count to rise aggressively, up to a billion pollen grains, which then float to cover cars, homes, and sidewalks in light yellow coating. Trees in Texas that cause spring allergies are elm, ash, oak, and cottonwood. Along with trees, grasses and weeds begin to release pollen as well. In addition to tree and pollen allergies, mold is another common allergen. Mold thrives in warmer and damper environments, so as soon as the temperatures begin to rise so do mold levels. For those with furry friends at home, spring also brings higher shedding rates for our beloved dogs and cats. With an increasing in shedding, there’s also an increase in pet dander which can definitely irritate allergies.

How do I know if it’s allergies or a cold?

If you begin to feel sick, you may wonder if you’re suffering from allergies or just a cold. Both share some common symptoms, but are different over all. Allergy symptoms include nasal congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, itchy eyes, sneezing, pain or tenderness in your cheeks, eyes or forehead, rash or hives, as well as coughing and wheezing. Cold symptoms include sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose, sore throat, post-nasal drip, congestion, low-grade fever, and body aches. Additionally, cold symptoms will begin to improve over time and clear up entirely after 7-10 days.

How can I get ahead of spring allergies and protect myself if I like to be outdoors gardening, hiking, or boating?

In order to make the most out of this time of year in Texas, the best thing you can do is get ahead of spring allergies. To start, make an appointment with your allergist to get tested and come up with a treatment plan. This plan may include daily allergy medications such as nasal spray and antihistamines, as well as longer term treatments such as allergy shots to help your immune system fight off the effects of allergens.

Next, remind yourself to check pollen counts daily and stay indoors when pollen is high. If you’re planning on spending time outdoors, be sure to change your clothing and shower as soon as you’re back inside to keep pollen from spreading into your home. Also, as beautiful as the weather may be outside, try not to leave windows or doors open.  Keep windows closed when driving in pollen-heavy areas like parks or fields; wear sunglasses while outside; and consider wearing a face mask while doing yard work or other activities where you’re likely to be exposed to high levels of pollen or pollution particles in the air.

Can I allergy-proof my home?

Allergy-proof? Maybe not. Allergy-friendly is more plausible. Start by keeping windows closed and using an air conditioner or dehumidifier if necessary. Make sure that all air filters are changed regularly and avoid using fans if they stir up dust or pollen particles. Vacuum carpets often with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner, and dust furniture with a damp cloth. Finally, wash bedding weekly in hot water to get rid of allergens that may have accumulated over time.

Are there any low-pollen trees, shrubs, and plants I can plant in my yard?

If you love gardening and have allergies, but want to enjoy as much greenery as possible, there are many options of trees, shrubs, and plants you can plant with low pollen counts. Trees with low-pollen counts include crabapple trees, crepe myrtle, dogwood, eastern redbud, magnolia, pear trees, and tulip trees. There are also a variety of fruit bearing trees you can plant such as lemon, apple, persimmon, plum, apricot, peach, and cherry trees. Low-pollen plants include begonia, cactus, chenille, clematis, crocus, daffodil, geranium, iris, lily, petunia, rose, salvia, tulip, and verbena. There are also a variety of stunning low-pollen shrubs such as azalea, boxwood, hibiscus, hydrangea, and viburnum.

Springtime is here! With just a few simple steps we can prepare ourselves ahead of time for any unwelcome guests such as seasonal allergies that come along with it! Allergy-proofing our homes, taking the right medications, being mindful of outdoor activities—all these measures will help us stay healthy throughout this beautiful season ahead! Enjoy the warm temperatures and blooming flowers without having your allergies take control!

Happy Spring!

Greater Austin Allergy Asthma & Immunology
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