When the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and a light breeze is blowing, it is oh-so-tempting to throw open the windows and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of spring. Maybe you are even itching (pun intended) to roll up your sleeves and tackle some serious spring cleaning. But if you are one of the more than 20 million sufferers of allergic rhinitis, commonly called hay fever, you know that picture-perfect scene brings nothing but misery.

The two most common seasonal allergy triggers are pollen and mold. Beginning at this time of year and lasting into the fall, those pollen and mold spore particles are plentiful, airborne, and inevitably find their way into your home. Two-thirds of those with seasonal allergies are usually also allergic to dust, and the mites it harbors, as well as pet dander.

For allergy sufferers, there’s plenty to sneeze at this spring, but there are also ways to keep your home and airways clean and clear.

Pollen Protection

  • Keep doors and windows closed.
  • Leave shoes and pollen-covered clothes at the door or in a designated spot that doesn’t track it throughout the house.
  • Park the car in the garage.
  • Wash your hair at night so you don’t take pollen to bed with you.
  • Wipe indoor pets down with animal wet wipes after outdoor play.

Manage Moisture and Mold

  • Use a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) purifier in your home to catch and kill airborne mold spores.
  • Use a dehumidifier to keep moisture below 50 percent.
  • Replace air filters monthly with HEPA filters to block mold spores and pollen from entering through vents.
  • Spray visible mold with a vinegar, tea tree oil, water mix.
  • Clean moldy shower heads by tying a plastic bag filled part way with vinegar to the shower head and let it sit 30 minutes to overnight and then rinsing.

Dust and Dander

  • Dust every square inch and surface from the top down.

*Fun tip: Use a lint roller on lampshades and rubber band a dust cloth around the end of a broom for hard to reach places.

  • Don’t dry dust. Trap dust with a wet cloth using a natural spray bottle mix of one half-cup of vinegar to two cups of water.
  • Declutter every day so piles of books and magazines don’t become dust (and mite) bins.
  • Use dust mite mattress and pillow protectors. Wash bed linens weekly in hot water.
  • Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter and empty in an outdoor bin so particles don’t stick around.

Pull on some good quality rubber gloves and wear a face mask, when necessary, to keep your spring cleaning from making your seasonal allergies worse. Even a quick touch to your face can set off a series of sneezes and sniffles. While red, itchy eyes and a chronically runny nose are a miserable nuisance, it can affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep and can aggravate asthma, eczema and migraine headaches.

If allergy symptoms persist, American Family Care, the nation’s leading provider of urgent care, accessible primary care and occupational medicine, can help you find answers and relief for your allergy symptoms, from over-the-counter solutions to allergy shots. We are open seven days a week and offer extended hours, making us your number one convenient stop for health care!