Spring is here at last! How can we know for sure? Well, there are all the usual sights: robins bobbin’, bunnies (both real and chocolate) multiplying as they are wont to do, and people out and about wearing only as much clothing as is mandated by law. Not just sights, but sounds of spring abound as well: The air is filled with birds singing, lawnmowers mowing, baseball announcers announcing, and allergy sufferers sneezing and wheezing.
Ugh, those springtime allergies. So unfair to be in this much misery when everything is sunny, bright, and beautiful. Well, to wax all philosophical about it, without pain, there can be no pleasure -– the pleasure, in this case, being that of taking a really good antihistamine that makes those allergy symptoms go away for a few hours. Here’s hoping you’ve laid in a good supply of your preferred allergy medicine, though, since Dr. Shirin Peters, an internist with New York City’s Bethany Medical Clinic, tells The List in an exclusive interview that this year’s allergy season is going to be a bad one.
An early spring means high pollen counts
After a long, long year (March 2020 to March 2021 seemed like at least a decade’s worth of time, didn’t it?) we were all thrilled to see spring come early. Unfortunately, humans weren’t the only ones rejoicing in the rapid return of warmer weather. Pollen celebrating getting an early start on its season by going forth and multiplying even faster than the aforementioned rabbits, and Peters warns that this means allergy season “will last longer as pollen will continue to be produced until summer hits at a normal time.”
Not only are pollen counts right now much higher than they would be were temps still down in the normal early spring range (i.e., cold), but more people are outdoors breathing them in. There’s a natural tendency to want to be outside once winter comes to an end, as well as the fact that under current circumstances, as Peters points out, we’ve all been feeling cooped-up by pandemic precautions.
How to combat seasonal allergies
Outdoors isn’t the only danger zone for the allergy-prone. As Peters tells us, “Indoor allergens such as dust and pet dander are also at higher levels because of increased build up as many of us have been confined more indoors this past year working from home.” So how can we avoid allergy triggers if it’s not safe to go outside, but indoors has its hazards, too? While there isn’t much you can do about the great outdoors apart from enjoying it through a window, Peters does say there are a few things you can do to reduce your indoor risk level. Dust-proof mattresses and pillow covers are worth investing in, Peters advises, but adds that you should try to cut down on fabric-based furnishings in your bedroom and throughout your house since rugs, tapestries, curtains, etc. can all trap and hold dust. (Vinyl roller shades, anyone?) She also suggests using a hypoallergenic laundry detergent such as Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin.
If all else fails, you could always pack your bags and move, or at least relocate for the summer. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the worst possible place for allergic folks to live is Joe Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. The least allergy-triggering burg in the U.S., however, is Durham, North Carolina, while other top picks for the allergy-prone include Seattle, Milwaukee, and Denver. (Could it be pollen’s not a fan of tobacco, coffee, beer, or weed?)
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