12 Ways to Reclaim Spring from Allergies
10. POLLEN STOPPERS
Showering and brushing off pets are strategies for reducing indoor pollen and controlling hay fever. But if you need more help, a non-pharmaceutical tactic for milder allergies is the pollen blocker. They may look like another nasal spray or cream, but blockers are biologically inert and stop pollen from interacting with your nose.
The blockers could stand more clinical studies to bolster their credibility, but a handful have found that users reduced hay fever symptoms and medication use, and were better able to breathe through their noses.
A cream form, Dr. Theiss Alergol Pollen Blocker Cream, is available online, and a fine misting nose spray powder, Nasal Ease is available at Walgreen’s.
11. NO DRIP, DRY RELIEF
Some of us need more than an antihistamine to get a grip on spring. Your allergist may recommend regular use of a prescription nasal steroid, in liquid spray form.
But if you’re one of those put off by the “back wash” if the spray happens to drip down your throat, good news: at least three companies have or are developing dry mist sprays for hay fever. The products – QNASL (Teva Pharmaceutical Industries), Nasacort HFA (made by Acton Pharmaceuticals), and Zetonna (Sunovion) – have all significantly reduced symptoms in large drug trials. Zetonna received FDA approval in January 2012, while QNASL was approved in April 2012. Both are currently available by prescription, and Nasacort HFA is scheduled to hit U.S. shelves by 2014.
12. LOBBY FOR ‘SMART’ TREES
Your own actions could help to reclaim spring (and future springs) in your hometown. Writing a letter to city hall and your school board to encourage allergy-friendly planting programs could prompt action, especially if others to do the same.
Pollen’s effects can cause sleeplessness, followed by fatigue and poor concentration and even asthma attacks. One city that now takes tree pollination seriously is Albuquerque, where a boy died from an asthma attack after falling into a pollinating juniper bush. That led to a pollen control ordinance, which includes making it illegal to plant a male cypress or mulberry tree within city limits. Las Vegas, Tuscon and Phoenix have followed with similar rules.
But outside that pocket of enlightenment, urban foresters across North America are still planting some of the most allergenic trees available. The practice is considered compatible with healthy forest regeneration, but the fact is that few forestry departments have weighed the benefits to humans of reducing numbers of male trees.
If every allergy sufferer were to tell city hall just how big a wallop some trees can pack, local governments would likely re-consider new landscaping and tree replacement. There are, after all, millions of us who could speak up this spring. New shots, sprays, pills and gadgets are increasingly making our allergies manageable. But how wonderful would it be to step out on a fine spring day under a canopy of trees that didn’t make you sneeze at all.