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MADISON, Wis. – May is prime time to smell the flowers and enjoy the fresh air, unless you are one of the 81 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four adults and nearly one in five children have a diagnosed seasonal allergy.
Typically, tree pollen counts rise from April through early June, while grass pollen increases from mid-May through June. Sneezing, congestion and itchy, red eyes are common symptoms of seasonal allergies and can impact a person’s ability to enjoy spring.
While people can’t control the seasons or the weather, there are simple ways to alleviate symptoms, according to Dr. Mark Moss, allergist, UW Health, and associate professor of medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
“It can be tempting to open your windows to enjoy the fresh air, but for people with allergies, it is better to keep them closed and stay indoors when pollen or mold levels are high,” Moss said. “Instead of keeping windows open, you may want to use air conditioning, which cleans, cools and dries the air in your home.”
Moss recommends wearing a pollen mask while mowing the lawn or weeding the yard and changing clothes or taking a shower immediately after coming indoors. People with allergies should also avoid hanging clothes and sheets outside to dry.
The key is to treat allergy symptoms early and not to wait until symptoms become unbearable to call an allergist, he said.
“From nasal sprays to eye drops to over-the-counter antihistamines, there are a variety of tools to ease allergy symptoms,” Moss said. “The sooner you meet your allergist to come up with a treatment and management plan, the sooner you can go back to enjoying the season.”