iStock_000009372859XSmallThis spring has been unbearable in the Southeast thus far for allergy sufferers. March 20, 2012 has already set a record high in the city of Atlanta as having the highest pollen count ever recorded (9,639)! Severe allergies can affect people to the point of impacting their work quality and could even influence absenteeism. Thirty to sixty million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies, so there are bound to be at least a few employees in your office who are affected.

What causes spring allergies?

The cause of the recent high pollen count in the Southeast is tree pollen, a very tiny grain released by a tree while in bloom. Pollen may also be released from weeds, grasses, and other vegetation. Windy days are some of the worst, because it enables the pollen to travel further and pick up from surfaces more readily. Typical symptoms of spring allergies include runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, headaches and an overall hazy and lightheaded feeling. These symptoms can also lead to exacerbated asthma symptoms, wheezing and shortness of breath. This may be extremely dangerous for certain vulnerable populations, such as children and older adults.

Often, it is hard to decipher these symptoms from those of the common cold, but allergies tend to create more persistent symptoms that last for more than just a couple of days. While cold medications may help to lessen symptoms of allergies, they will not completely go away until after the pollen season is over.

If you are being plagued by symptoms this allergy season:

  • Wish for rain! Rain will wash down the pollen from the air and help to lessen the severity of symptoms.
  • Check for your local pollen count from local news sources or through the National Weather Service.
  • Avoid doing yard work, working or exercising outdoors on days with high pollen counts. If you do need to do yard work, or it is necessary to be outside for your job, wear a mask to limit exposure to allergens.
  • Use an air conditioning unit while indoors and keep windows and doors shut. If you don’t already have air conditioning then contact someone like Infiniti Air to see if they can install it for your business. Frequently change the allergen air filter on your air conditioning unit. Using a HEPA filter will help limit circulating allergens as well. Furthermore, if you do have air conditioning in your home or office, you might want to book in for a service. Particles of dust and dirt can get trapped in the air filter and this can exacerbate your allergies further. Contact a dedicated HVAC cleaning firm such as today if you suspect your system could benefit from a thorough clean.
  • Get a desktop air purifier to keep the area you work pollen free.
  • Vacuum twice a week to keep pollen from collecting on floors. While doing so, wear protection over your mouth and nose, because allergens may be kicked up into the air.
  • Wash clothes and shower often after being outdoors and exposed to pollen.
  • There are many over-the-counter and prescription drugs used to help fight symptoms of allergies. Starting to take these medications early in the season or changing up brands may help.
  • Some allergy suffers swear by natural remedies. The most popular ones include local honey, acupuncture, Vitamin C with Quercetin, saline sprays and neti pots.
  • Seek the consultation of a physician (an allergist) if you are unable to find relief from these tips, they may suggest other remedies (such as allergy shots) or test you for specific allergic reactions.

For more information, consult the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America or take a look at this interactive allergy forecast map of the day’s best and worst allergy cities.

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