Wichita is often regarded as one of the top 10 cities for having the worst spring allergies largely as a result of the local topography and weather conditions. Many spring allergy symptoms are related to exposure to tree pollen. As trees “wake up” after winter, they release billions of pollens that are very light weight and can travel for several miles.
Wichita and the surrounding areas tend to have very windy conditions, and these strong wind gusts stir up the pollens and carry them hundreds of miles. Our beautiful plains allow these pollens to travel freely, without the interruption of large hills or mountains, to reach our nose and eyes and trigger allergy symptoms.
The best way to reduce spring allergy symptoms is to avoid triggers. Keep windows closed at home and in the car to keep pollens out. Avoid prolonged outdoor activity on days when the pollen counts are high. Wear a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-rated 95 filter mask when mowing the lawn or doing other chores outdoors. Be sure to shower after outdoor activity. Breathing in pollens that remain on your skin and hair throughout the night can worsen allergy symptoms.
When avoidance measures are not keeping symptoms at bay, you might consider using a nasal saline rinse daily. This will help remove pollens from your nasal passages so that nasal congestion and other symptoms are less severe.
Fortunately, there are also several over-the-counter options for allergy treatment. After talking to your doctor, you might consider taking a non-sedating antihistamine (e.g. cetirizine, loratadine, or fexofenadine) every day. Keep in mind that the dose and dosing schedule might be different for children and adults.
If your symptoms are worsening or not improving, an allergist can help identify your triggers. The allergist will work with you in developing a personalized treatment plan to help you get the most out of this beautiful season.