Workforce Wellness – Bon Secours


Lifestyle Changes Help Reduce Allergy Symptoms

Fighting allergy symptoms in Virginia is more than just a rite of spring. The state’s long growing season and plentiful rain make seasonal allergies a year-long affair for many residents.

While over-the-counter medications can help manage runny noses and itchy eyes, many allergy sufferers can get some relief by making lifestyle changes and avoiding what triggers their allergies in the first place.

It’s a noteworthy strategy for Virginians. Virginia Beach and Richmond often rank among the top 30 cities in the country for severe spring and fall allergy seasons, according to a list compiled annually by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

For most people, allergies last a few weeks once or twice during the year. Others, however, develop more serious problems like asthma and sinusitis – a common chronic disease that costs Americans roughly $6 billion a year.

The first step to reducing allergy symptoms naturally is to know what triggers them. By keeping track of when allergy symptoms begin and when they are at their worse, many people are able to determine what’s causing their allergies by looking at what’s blooming that time of year.

Those who are still unsure what’s causing their allergies should consult a health care provider who can help pinpoint the likely culprits. In Virginia, tree pollen season runs February through May, while grass pollens can be a problem year-round.

The next step is to try avoiding allergy triggers. Federal health authorities and allergy experts recommend the following preventive strategies to steer clear of ragweed, tree and grass pollens:

  • Monitor your city’s pollen count by checking local weather apps and reports.
  • Avoid the outdoors when pollen levels are at their highest – usually between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Plan outside activities for the late afternoon or after a heavy rain when pollen levels are lower.
  • Shower, change and wash your clothes after you’ve spent time outdoors.
  • Keep windows closed in your home and while driving. Use air conditioning instead.
  • Be aware that people and pets can transport pollen indoors.
  • Use an automatic dryer for drying clothes instead of hanging anything outside where they can collect pollen.
  • To avoid grass pollen, wear a mask while mowing the lawn or have someone else do it. Keep grass cut short.
  • Choose a species of grass that doesn’t cause allergies. Avoid these grasses: bermuda, johnson, kentucky, orchard, sweet vernal and timothy grasses.

Those who want try to a complementary approach to manage their allergies might have some success with saline nasal irrigation, which has been proven to offer modest improvement. It is important to properly use and clean rinsing devices and neti pots. Tap water that hasn’t been filtered, treated and processed in specific ways is not safe for nasal rinsing, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Distilled and boiled water are recommended to prevent rare infections.

Federal health authorities also recommend seeking a doctor’s advice before trying any natural remedies or herbal products. One popular herb, butterbur, has shown some evidence for easing seasonal allergy symptoms but can also worsen allergies or pose serious health threats. Other popular strategies are acupuncture and eating honey. Acupuncture has shown mixed results while eating honey lacks convincing scientific evidence to be considered beneficial, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

If you need help with allergy symptoms, click here or call 804-359-WELL (9355) to find Bon Secours health care provider near you.

Sources: CDC, NIH National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, FDA, NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

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