It’s a fact: less than 10% of those who make resolutions keep them long-term. But when it comes to allergies, what are New Year’s resolutions to some are keys for everyday well-being for others. If you’re a patient with allergies yourself or are a support system for someone who is, here are ten common-sense ways you can take charge of your health this year and beyond.
1). Check the forecast.
Before planning your day and even the week ahead, check the local forecast for pollen and mold counts. Plan clothing, activities and even what medicines you need to have on hand to reduce potential flare-ups.
2). Wash your hands.
Make sure to wash your hands, especially after handling pets. Hand-washing can also reduce the risk of transmitting viruses like influenza and the common cold. Many allergy patients are more likely to have frequent colds or sinus infections due to underlying allergic inflammation.
3). Eat healthy.
No diet has been shown to reduce nasal allergy or asthma symptoms. However, eating a balanced diet with fruit, vegetables, and lean protein that is low in refined carbohydrates can improve your overall health. Patients with food allergies can choose healthy alternatives and should avoid cross-contamination with the foods that trigger symptoms.
4). Maintain your landscaping.
Patients should dress appropriately with protective clothing, gloves, and even a mask when working in the yard to minimize exposure to pollen, mold, and stinging insect. Or, consider hiring a professional. If you’re an outdoor lover, planting trees such as apple, dogwood, pear and plum can downgrade potential allergen risk. Flowers such as begonia, roses, daffodils and lilacs not only add beautiful color to landscaping beds, they’re also friendly for most people with allergies.
5). Deep clean your house.
One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is getting organized. What goes hand-in-hand with organization? Cleaning! And it just so happens that keeping your home tidy and dust, mold- and mildew-free is one of the best ways to reduce indoor allergens. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check and change your air filters if needed. You can get even more information about deep-cleaning and allergy-proofing your house in this blog post.
6). Raise your tolerance.
Living in a world without allergens sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? While we can’t completely eliminate allergens, ask your board-certified allergist if immunotherapy is right for you. Immunotherapies such as rush immunotherapy or allergy shots can go a long way toward raising the tolerance of those with allergies. In some cases, immunotherapy can virtually eliminate most allergy symptoms all together.
7). Know your environment.
By knowing your environment, you can brainstorm ways to make it work for you. If you have food allergies, you may consider bringing your own tray of food to share at a party. That way, you can be confident that the food is safe for your allergies. Or, if you’re sensitive to dust mites, you can protect your mattresses by using allergen-free covers.
Talk to your friends and family. Let them know the best way to support you during flare-ups and to help you avoid them. Justifiably, people without allergies can have a hard time understanding exactly what those with allergies go through. Sometimes, just starting a conversation with friends and family helps.
- Explain to friends and loved ones that recommendations are based on physician advice.
- Share a story about a flare-up. Paint an open and honest picture of the fear you live with.
- If you’re allergic to pets, explain why gatherings and get-togethers need to be held in a fur-baby free environment.
- If you have food allergies, discuss the dangers of cross contamination.
- Express gratefulness for their support.
9). Know your limits.
Whether its tree nuts, pollen, dust or any other allergen, know what you’re allergic to and which situations result in your worst flare-ups.
10). Have an emergency plan.
Flare-ups can happen, and they can be scary when they feel more severe. The best thing you can do in the worst situation is to stay calm. Having a plan and knowing what to do can help you keep your head. Our board-certified allergists can guide you and your loved ones through how best to navigate an emergency situation and to work toward the best possible outcome.
Living with allergies can feel overwhelming sometimes but being proactive can feel empowering. Forming good habits, always being aware of your surroundings, trusting in an educated support system, and knowing how to handle flare-ups can make allergies feel more manageable. Here’s to a happy, healthy year!