Allergies can ruin your day. You may feel fine when you go to sleep, and then in the morning, something has changed and triggered your allergies. Suddenly, you’re sneezing and sniffling, and it won’t stop.
For those living or renting in northern Colorado, allergies can leave you feeling run down, exhausted, and even in pain. What can you do about preventing allergies in northern Colorado? Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can to do prevent or at least reduce how bad your allergy symptoms are.
Have an Allergy Test Done
One of the first things you should do is talk to your doctor about having an allergy test done. During this test, you will be exposed to a number of common allergens.
One common test is done by pricking your arm with a small lancet. This needles does not penetrate deep into the skin, and in most cases, it only brings up a drop or two of blood. However, it exposes you to a number of common substances, including mold, pollen, and pet dander.
If you have an allergic reaction, you know you are allergic to one of the items included. Your doctor can then do various other tests to help narrow down what is causing your reaction.
Once you know which of the allergies in northern Colorado is triggering your response, you can take steps to reduce your exposure or control your allergies.
For example, if you determine that you’re allergic to pet dander, you will know that you should avoid pets. If you’re allergic to pollen or other substances in the air, however, it may not be as easy to avoid exposure.
Make Use of Medications
While taking over-the-counter allergy medications may only deal with the symptoms, these products still help you regain control of your life.
There are a wide number of products out there, and for severe allergies, your doctor may even prescribe you more powerful versions of these medications.
Common medications to use to help control your allergies will include antihistamines, decongestants, and sinus rinses.
You may also need to use a nasal spray or even a nasal steroid, depending on how bad your allergies are and what your doctor recommends.
If you have asthma that is made worse by allergies, you may need to carry an inhaler with you at all times in case you find it difficult to breath.
Change Your HVAC Filters Regularly
Your air conditioner and your furnace push comfortable air throughout your home, but as they do, they also spread dust, dander, and other substances into the air. You then breathe this in, causing indoor allergies that can be just as bad if not worse than outdoor allergies.
One way to minimize these allergies is to regularly change your HVAC filter. This filter catches a large number of particles that cause allergies.
However, in order to truly cut down on the number of allergens in the air, you need to use a filter that is specifically designed to catch these particles. Standard HVAC filters often allow small particles through them, so they don’t help. Look for filters designed for allergens.
If you have a pet allergy but do have pets in the house, there are filters specifically designed to catch animal dander. Investing in these filters and changing them monthly will greatly reduce your allergies at home.
Have Your Vents Cleaned
Changing your filters will cut down on the dirt, debris, and other allergens that get into your HVAC vents, but it won’t remove anything that is already there. Also, even the best filters may let some particles through. That’s why you should have your air ducts cleaned on a fairly regular basis.
You likely don’t need this done every month, but once a year is fairly standard. If you have a number of people in your family who have allergies or anyone who suffers from severe allergies, you may need to have your vents cleaned twice a year. The process is fairly simple, and no harsh chemicals are used.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
You might not think that sleep has anything to do with allergies, but it does. What tends to happen is that you end up in a vicious cycle. You can’t sleep well because of your allergies, which leaves you feeling tired and run down. This also impacts your body’s ability to heal and recharge.
With your body weakened, it may be even harder to deal with your allergies. If you begin depending on sleep aids or, worse, alcohol, to fall asleep, your health can quickly begin to spiral.
You will need to talk to your doctor if you find that you aren’t able to get at least five or six hours of sleep at night.
There may be medications you can take right before bed that will help reduce your allergies. Some may even make you drowsy, making them a poor option for using during the day but ideal for getting to sleep.
Get a Stand-Alone Air Filter
Another thing that may help you sleep better is to get a stand-alone air filter and place it near your bed. This air filter will actively clean the air, removing allergens.
Make certain the air filter meets HEPA standards. These filters have been designed and tested to remove a large number of allergens. Just make certain that you regularly replace the filters.
You May Need a Dehumidifier
If you are allergic to dust or mold, a dehumidifier can help. It reduces the amount of humidity in the air, which is what mold needs to grow. Dust mites also love warm, humid rooms.
A dehumidifier will decrease both of these allergens, allowing you to sleep better. You should aim to have the humidity in your home at 35% or less to really reduce your allergies.
Don’t Get Dehydrated
Drinking water will help you battle your allergies, while becoming dehydrated can make them worse. That’s because drinking water helps reduce the amount of histamines produced by the immune system.
The body actually makes more histamines when you start to become dehydrated because they help retain water.
Allergy sufferers should make sure they stay hydrated so their bodies are only dealing with the effects of the allergens, not the allergens and dehydration combined.
Vacuum Regularly or Replace Your Carpets
Carpet may keep your feet warm during those cold Colorado winters, but it also traps allergens, including dander, pollen, dirt, among others. Anything you bring into your home can get trapped in the carpet and then kicked up into the air when you walk on it.
This means you need to vacuum regularly if you don’t want to be breathing in any of this debris.
If your allergies are severe, you may even want to consider replacing your carpets with tile, hardwood, or laminate. All of those flooring options are easier to clean and do not trap allergens.
While that may seem like a major change just to deal with your allergies, you may find that it’s worth it. If you have pets, removing your carpet can offer drastic improvements in the way you breathe.
Don’t forget to clean other fabric surfaces that can hold allergens, too. Curtains, area rugs, pillows, and sheets can all become home to allergens. Regularly wash them or, in the case of curtains, replace them with blinds.
Close the Windows
During the colder months, you probably don’t have your windows open much at all. However, as it warms up, it can be tempting to let in the breeze. This is especially true when you’re cleaning or baking.
However, with the breeze comes allergens, and your seasonal allergy symptoms are likely to get much worse if you have the windows open. While it may make your home feel a bit stuffy, it’s better to keep the windows closed.
Check the Pollen Count
Did you know you can visit pollen.com to see what the pollen count is in your area? If you have a bad reaction to pollen, this website will at least give you an idea of when your allergies are going to be bad.
You can try to avoid spending much time outdoors on days that the pollen is very high. Several weather applications for your phone may also include this metric.
Wear the Right Clothing
If you do have to go outdoors, be sure you wear clothing that will help protect you from allergens. This includes a hat, long sleeves, and long pants. This way, pollen and other allergens don’t get on your skin or in your hair.
You may even want to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
If you’re going to be doing anything outdoors that may involve disturbing pollen, such as doing yard work, you may consider wearing a facemask.
Living with Allergies
No one wants to live with allergies, but it’s important to recognize that most allergies cannot be “cured.” They can only be controlled. If you know what causes allergies, specifically what causes you to have a severe reaction, you can take steps to avoid those triggers. Keeping your home clean, putting in new HVAC filters regularly, and following these other tips will reduce your symptoms even more.