7 Things that Can Make Your Seasonal Allergies Worse

If you’re someone who suffers from seasonal allergies, now is the time of year your flare-ups can start: sneezing, congestion, runny nose, itchy throat, watery eyes. Depending on how many seasonal allergies you have, you might be dealing with these symptoms all year.

A good place to start when you want to control them is looking at your regular habits to see if you’re unintentionally doing things that can make your allergies worse. You might find this not only reduces the severity of your symptoms, but possibly your need for medication.

Below is a list of common mistakes you might be making that can cause problems, and what you can do to fix them.

1. Being Careless with the Clothes You Wore Outside When You Go Inside

The problem: When you’re outside, your clothes pick up pollens and other particles in the air that you can bring in the house and spread from room to room.

The fix: Leave your jacket, shoes, and other outdoor clothing in the garage, and undress in a room that isn’t your bedroom. Wash the clothes you wear outside each time you wear them, preferably in hot water – 140 degrees Fahrenheit if you can.

2. Drying Clothes, Sheets, and Towels Outside on a Line

The problem: Drying anything outdoors on a line can make it smell wonderful. Unfortunately, while it’s outside drying, it’s also capturing pollens and other troublesome allergens blowing in the air.

The fix: Avoid or limit how often you hang your clothes outside to dry. Some people have found putting their clothes in a hot dryer after they’ve been outside can help get rid of allergens. (There’s no guarantee that’ll work.) You may also opt to dry your clothes gently in the dryer for a few minutes and then let them finish drying on an indoor drying rack.

3. Showering in the Morning

The problem: Pollen, dust, and mold don't only cling to your clothing; they can also stick to your hair and skin. If you shower in the morning instead of at night, you’re carrying the allergens you pick up during the day into your bed at night.

The fix: Take a shower at night, instead of the morning, to keep allergens out of your bed. If you can’t shower before bed, put on a set of clean clothes. Wash your hair every day, and reduce the number of sticky hair products you use, like sprays, waxes, and mousses.

4. Letting Your Dog in the Bed

The problem:  Dogs are covered with pollen-and-particle trapping fur, and they love to roll around in the grass, dirt, flowers, and anything else they can find when they’re outside.

The fix: Don’t worry. You don't have to get rid of your dog. But it’s a good idea to make sure you bathe them regularly and do your best to keep them off of your bed, and ideally out of your bedroom.

5. Opening the Doors and Windows

The problem:  We all love to open our doors and windows to let fresh air in the house.  But while they're open, pollens and other allergens can blow in the house and stick to carpet, curtains, furniture, and more. This is especially true on days it's windy.

The fix: Sadly, you’ll need to keep doors and windows closed when pollen counts are high. If you have to turn on the air conditioner, make sure it has an allergy filter on it. Cleaning can stir up allergens, so if you find that cleaning triggers a reaction; wear a dust or particulate mask, or even better, have someone else do it. You can also consider purchasing a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. They capture a lot of small particles on the ground and filter them out so they can’t recirculate back into the air.

6. Wearing Contact Lenses

The problem: Contact lenses, especially the soft ones, can let pollens and other allergens in and trap them against your eye. Even the best cleaning solution might not be able to get rid of all of them.

The fix: Wear your glasses on days pollen counts are high, and any time your allergy symptoms cause discomfort in your eyes. Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes when you're wearing contact lenses because it can push allergens into your eyes. It might be worth looking into hard contact lenses because they don’t absorb what’s floating in the air as easily. Daily disposable lenses are an option too since you don't wear them long enough for anything to build up. 

7. Smoking Cigarettes or Being Around People Who Do

The problem:  People with allergies are hyper-sensitive to the chemicals and irritants in cigarette smoke, whether it’s coming from their own smoking or other peoples.

The fix: This one’s pretty straight forward – stop smoking. If you don’t smoke, make sure no one does it in your house and try to avoid being around people who do.

For more information about living with seasonal allergies and what an allergist can do to help you, read this article from our blog.

Meet the Author

Monica Vasudev, MD is a board-certified allergist and clinical immunologist at Aurora Sheboygan Clinic in Sheboygan, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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