As allergy season moves in, the sniffles and sneezes can turn a day outside into a miserable mess.

If your allergies are seasonal, make sure you know the timing of your allergens. 

• Pollen: Tree pollen increases in early spring; grass pollen increases in late spring; and weed pollen increases in the late summer and fall.

• Mold: Mold can increase on hot and dry days, with rain and humidity, and in damp areas of homes.

• Animal hair/dander, dust mites and cockroaches can cause symptoms all year long.

How are allergies treated?

It’s important to determine what you’re allergic to early on so you can take steps to avoid the allergens as much as possible. Avoidance of your allergens will greatly decrease your symptoms. If you can’t avoid what causes your allergies, take medications to relieve symptoms. These are available over the counter or with a prescription. You can also get allergy shots to reduce your symptoms and the need for medications.

How can you avoid exposure to allergens?

Avoiding exposure to your allergens isn’t a foolproof concept, but you can take steps to limit your interactions with the causes of your discomfort.

• Stay inside when the pollen or mold counts are high. This information is available here.

• Keep your windows closed and run the air conditioner. Make sure to change the filter on a regular basis.

• Use a dehumidifier to keep indoor humidity less than 50 percent. This reduces dust mites and mold.

• Monitor your home for dampness, especially in your kitchen, bathroom and basement, as this can promote the growth of mold.

• Use dust mite covers on pillows and mattresses, and wash your bedding once a week.

• Dust and vacuum at least once per week.

• Keep your pets out of the bedroom and bathe them at least once per week.

• If there are pets in the home, HEPA filters and air purifiers can help reduce the amount of dander and hair floating around in the air.

• Keep the kitchen clean and food covered or sealed to avoid attracting cockroaches.

• Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke, perfumes and other chemicals because they can make allergy symptoms worse.

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Dr. Jill Hanson is a pediatrician for Boys Town, specializing in allergy, asthma, immunology and pediatric pulmonology. 

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