Posted on March 21, 2016

Tips to keep your allergies in check as spring blooms

It’s that time of year when warmer days mean spring is in bloom. While the blossoms look beautiful, air dense with pollen isn’t so pleasant for some people. Pollen, while essential to plant reproduction, winds up in our eyes, sinuses and throats, making allergy sufferers a hot mess.

Common culprits include leafy trees commonly found in urban areas, including Norway Maple, alder and birch. While guidelines in Vancouver produce a relatively well-balanced urban forest, not everyone has the same tolerance or reacts the same way.

Here are some tips on how to cope through the next few weeks:

Allergy forecast
Plan your day by checking the allergy forecast. Go to popular sites like the Weather Network to see what the latest pollen count is for Vancouver or any other city in the province.

Defend yourself
Keep your windows closed until pollen counts diminish. Also, air purifiers are a second line of defense. Since no building is 100% airtight (air exchange is essential to a healthy building), it pays to make sure your personal space is as clean as possible. The purifier might only be of seasonal benefit, but the improvement to your quality of life can be well worth the investment. Be sure to buy one with a HEPA filter. Also, don’t buy one that produces ozone, which can be irritating to people with allergies.

While many over-the-counter pills offer respite, there are some natural alternatives to mitigating allergic responses. Some people swear by nettle leaves and saline rinses. You can also simply flush your eyes out with water after you’ve been outside. One lesser-known remedy is to keep your hair clean. Pollen can get trapped in gel and hairspray, so make a habit of washing your hair before bed for a more comfortable sleep. Also, change your clothes immediately upon getting home.

Head outdoors
It may be counter intuitive, but head to the mountains for a break. Many coniferous trees are hypoallergenic. Getting away from tree-lined city streets for the evergreen forests of the North Shore can be a welcome respite from the annual allergy assault. The exercise may even keep your body in fighting form.

With a bit of planning, you can reduce your response to pollen-related allergies. On the plus side, it may be refreshing to know that spring allergies mean summer is just around