I know it is still February, but many places have been having spring-like weather already. Unfortunately, for many people, the warmer spring air brings runny noises and watery, itchy eyes. This condition is known as rhinitis, an inflammation of the mucous membranes in the nose, and it causes sneezing, runny noses and a constant feeling of being stuffed up.
Rhinitis can occur as the result of a cold, allergies or environmental irritants like dust, cigarette smoke or pollution. If your symptoms are year-round and worsen in the spring, you most likely have seasonal allergies, rather than an infection like a cold.
Becoming aware of your environment and what you can do to reduce your exposure to irritants and allergens is an important step toward helping stop your allergy symptoms. Using antihistamines or nasal sprays may help reduce the symptoms, but regular use of them can cause dryness, drowsiness, and even nasal irritation. These medications usually do not fully control the symptoms and even ignore the source of the symptoms. If you want long-lasting relief, you need to know how to identify and manage your triggers. Here are three questions to ask yourself to help identify your triggers.
- Do you notice that your nose becomes more congested at night when you lie down to sleep? Allergies to pet dander, dust mites or mold spores in your room may be to blame.
- Do you notice the symptoms more when you are outside? Could be pollens, fungus or mold.
- Does someone at work or in your house smoke, or do you live in a highly polluted area? Smoke and air particulates from cars and industrial smog can worsen symptoms
If you have answered yes to any of these, consider following these tips to help cut down your exposure to common irritants and allergens.
• Dust: Have your house dusted and vacuumed twice a week (use a mask and gloves if you are the one that has to do it). Limit the use of fans, change the filter on your HVAC unit frequently, and have your air ducts cleaned twice a year.
• Dust mites: Dust mites just sound gross, but they are everywhere and they live in dust particles. Fun fact: their feces can trigger rhinitis (ewwww). To get rid of them, follow the same suggestions as above. Dehumidify your house to below 50% and keep the temperature lower than 70 degrees. They love pillows and down blankets, so stick them in the dryer on high for 30 minutes once a week to help kill them.
• Mold: If mold is one of your triggers, keep bathrooms and basements as dry as possible. Keep the humidity in the house below 50%, dry your wet laundry immediately, store firewood outside, and even limit houseplants (the soil attracts mold).
• Seasonal allergies: You can check pollen count on the news or online and on high count days, limit your time outside and close your windows. Also use the air-conditioner as little as possible. You can also be tested for a variety of pollens so you know whch plants you are allergic to,
• Pet dander: Bath your pets once a week and keep them out of your bedroom (at least off your bed) and off your furniture.
Even with all these tips, you will still occasionally be exposed to triggers. There are many remedies that can help. Using a neti pot can help clear your nasal passages and reduce the need for medication. Research has shown that some individuals find relief with weekly acupuncture sessions.
Herbs are also beneficial in helping reduce symptoms. But it is important to first address your indoor and outdoor triggers rather than relying solely on medications or even supplements. If you have tried all these strategies and still suffer from rhinitis, consider the Sinus Survival Program by Dr. Rob Ivker. The plan and the products are especially designed for chronic sufferers of sinus problems.
Photo from here with thanks.