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Wed, Aug. 21

Practical solutions for reducing spring allergies

For the Arizonans who suffer from allergies, spring can be especially miserable. In our local area, according to The Weather Channel Pollen Almanac (www.weather.com), tree pollen count was at high levels in April, leaving many residents with itchy eyes and runny noses.

What practical steps can allergy sufferers take to manage their symptoms this time of year? Experts recommend avoiding the outdoors as much as possible between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., when pollen counts are usually at their highest. Perform outside activities late in the afternoon or, if possible, after a heavy rain, when pollen counts are lower. If you must work outside, it's good to wear a filter mask, particularly on warm, dry, windy days. After coming inside, take a shower, wash your hair and change clothes. This will remove pollen that may have collected on your clothes and hair.

Still sniffling even when you're not outside? If so, you may find relief by closing windows in your car as well as your house and turning on the air conditioner. When first turning on a home or car air conditioner, leave the room or drive with the windows open for several minutes to allow mold spores to disperse. Also, keeping humidity below 50 percent in your home may offer some allergy relief. Along with an air conditioner, a dehumidifier can add welcome moisture to the indoor air.

While an air-conditioned environment may spell relief for some, it also can trigger asthma attacks. Be aware that going from intense outdoor heat to a cold air-conditioned area can trigger an asthma attack.

Many people like the fresh scent of sheets and clothing after they are hung outside to dry. If you suffer from allergies, it's best to dry clothes and linens in an automatic dryer. These items can collect pollen when hung outside to dry.

The pets we love can be notorious allergen carriers. Bathe pets monthly to remove allergens. After playing with your pet, wash your hands and change your clothes.

While these practical tips may help reduce allergy symptoms, a physician can help you identify your allergy triggers and create a long-term treatment plan.

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