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What causes nasal allergies?

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Do away with allergies

More Americans than ever before are suffering from nasal allergies - the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America estimates there are approximately 40 million allergy sufferers in the US alone and recent studies indicate as many as one out of every four people have seasonal and year-round nasal allergies. Experts say nasal allergies are easily the most common chronic respiratory illness. What causes this irritating, even debilitating, condition? Read on to learn about the most common indoor and outdoor allergens and the steps you can take to do away with your nasal allergies.

Most common causes of seasonal allergies

Do your allergy symptoms happen to occur only when the winter weather wears off and warm days are on the horizon? If so, you may have seasonal allergies – caused by substances in the air that get released in spring.

Liesa Elliot, a professional air quality specialist and environmental expert in Nashville, Tennessee, says "The most common outdoor allergens are air-born tree, grass and weed pollens or mold spores." And even if you don't spend a lot of time outdoors, these seasonal allergens can get tracked into your house, too.

Jeff May, MA, certified indoor air quality professional (CIAQP) in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, who specializes in allergens in the home and workplace, adds "During warmer weather when windows are open, it is common for pollen and mold spores to enter the home. [In addition], pollen often clings to shoes when people walk around outside."

Tips to do away with seasonal allergies

Though you can't eliminate all the allergens that trigger your allergies, there are steps you can take to manage your symptoms and reduce your exposure to the offending allergens.

1. Watch the weather

Elliot, who has worked with the EPA and has 16 years experience monitoring the health impact of the air, says "Pollen levels are typically lower on rainy, cloudy and windless days. Hot, dry and windy weather can increase air-born pollen and your allergy symptoms. So limit your time outside on those days and keep windows closed."

2. Know your pollen count

Elliot also suggests monitoring your local pollen count – visit Pollen.com – and limit your time outdoors on high pollen count days.

3. Keep a well-maintained yard

"Keeping the grass on your lawn at about two inches will help," suggests Elliot. "As for your garden, bright and colorful flowers are best because they produce pollen that's unlikely to cause an allergic reaction."

4. Visit your doc

In addition to limiting your exposure to allergens, all three experts, suggest a visit to your doctor to learn how to properly manage and treat your nasal allergy symptoms. Dr Blaiss explains, "For many patients, allergists will likely prescribe medication to decrease nasal allergy symptoms, among them are oral antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, nasal antihistamines, leukotriene receptor antagonists, and oral decongestants or in some cases allergy shots." Ask your doctor about your options and the best treatment plan for your particular type of allergy.

Next up...causes of indoor allergies & tips to make your home an allergen-reduced haven

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