Know your allergies, beat your allergies

Knowing your allergies is the best way to prepare for the season.

Education is the best way to limit the often-stifling symptoms allergies bring about in countless people every year during the months-long allergy season.

Allergies are straightforward to understand. Simply put, allergies are the body’s immune response to a usually harmless foreign body. They can be foods, pollen, dust, or other substances typically found around the house or in nature.

Symptoms can range — in both type and severity — and, in today’s world of heightened awareness to any symptoms, can mirror various viral infections — such as sneezing, runny noses, itchy eyes, cramps, and hives. It's can also severely complicate asthma.

But there are ways to mitigate allergies’ effect on you. The first step is knowing exactly what it is you’re allergic to.

Determine your exact allergies

With the different types of pollen, one might suffer from tree pollen but remain unaffected by grass, weeds or ragweed pollens. Tests can determine which allergens affect you.

Know your location's seasons

Pollen allergy seasons in Michigan do not align with those in other parts of the country, such as California, Florida and others. Familiarize yourself with your location's seasons and pollens.

Watch the pollen and allergy counts

Local news weather broadcasts announce which allergens are predicted to be high on any particular day. Pay attention to the morning weather reports to see which are predicted to be a higher risk that day.

Limit exposure during high pollen times

Pollen is highest during 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. during its season. Try to limit being outdoors at that time, if possible. If it's a hot, dry, windy day, keep windows closed to avoid having pollen blown inside. Best time for outdoor activities is following a heavy rainfall. Wear sunglasses when outside.

Wash off pollen when exposed

Upon returning indoors, immediately wash your face and hands to remove pollen from your body. If possible, change clothing as well. Before going to bed, bathe, and shampoo hair to avoid spreading pollen to sheets and bedding. Wash bedding at least once a week in hot water.