Prepare for pollen season
February 16, 2017 7:16 AM   Subscribe

In Atlanta, the trees vomit pollen all spring. How do I avoid severe allergic reactions?

I am allergic to pollen. In Atlanta, everything is coated with a thin film of yellow pollen starting in March. It coats cars and everything outdoors; somehow, it got all over my floor last year. How do I keep my home and myself as pollen-free as possible? What steps can I take in advance?
posted by quadrilaterals to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you take a nose spray, start at least 2 weeks before the season gets going. Shower at night before you go to bed - including getting hair rinsed. Get someone else to vacuum - and you don't want this to happen while you're around because it gets the pollen and dust all moving around. Damp mop often. Never open your windows. Wash the car in a commercial car wash. Get good eye drops if your eyes bother you - zatidor name brand is my favorite - name brand does matter for me in this case, the generic didn't do squat. Keep a wet wash cloth on your eyes to calm them down. Take showers/steams to let your airways relax - I use a breathe essential oil on a shower puck to help. Exercise inside. Claritin is the antihistamine that helps me the most; take it at night.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 7:36 AM on February 16, 2017 [5 favorites]

Best answer: It won't help your floors, but a neti pot changed my life. I use mine twice a day during the spring.
posted by Classic Diner at 7:36 AM on February 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Would you consider taking your allergy medication as you start seeing a rise in the pollen count? Another map to watch. If you're interested in holistic measures, there's using a saline rinse for your sinuses, like a squeeze bottle or a neti pot. Other holistic measures you can take are exercising outside in the evening because usually the pollen count is high in the morning; keep your car windows and house windows closed during the overnight and morning hours; wash your face and hands after being outside (it washes off the pollen); remove your shoes and possibly your clothes when your return home from being outside; change your pillow case and bed sheets at least once/week; run the bathroom fan for at least 10 minutes after your shower ends; clean your shower curtain liner with bleach once every month or two; if your grass is starting to grow already, maybe use a surgical mask when you mow; and if you've got a dog or an indoor-outdoor cat, consider banishing him from the bed. They pick up pollen like crazy.

Although they're promoting their product, Zyrtec has a lot of valid suggestions.
posted by dlwr300 at 7:45 AM on February 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Allergy season has already started this year due to the mild winter. We've already had days with pollen counts in the 500s.

Start with a daily allergy med and/or nasal spray. Keep your windows closed and run the air-conditioning.
posted by heathrowga at 7:56 AM on February 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm allergic to pollen as well (as trees -- all of them! -- and grass) so basically I'm allergic to outside. I get fairly strict about my allergy protocol in the spring: Zyrtec, neti pot twice a day, shower at night, rinsing hair, no shoes in the house, change clothes if I was outside for a significant amount of time, wash car as often as I can, run the vacuum or Roomba frequently. I ask my husband to shower before coming to bed if he's been outside. I'm not very outdoorsy so it's not sacrifice for me to limit my time outside. And I almost never open windows in my house or car for significant amounts of time during pollen season.
posted by Aquifer at 8:36 AM on February 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

As soon as you come in from outside, lint roll your shirt and pull your hair away from your face. Carry wet wipes you can use on your face and wipe your face down and then wash your hands.

House to car then to office? Do this as soon as you get into the office. Office to car then home? Change immediately, wash your face and hands.

Light allergy med in the morning like Zyrtec or Clairton and the heavy one like Benadryl at night before bed. Saline mist spray for your nose. Blow your nose, do NOT sniff through out the day.

These are things my son's doctor has us do because his seasonal allergies are so heinous.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 8:37 AM on February 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you have central air, get heavy-duty filters for your A/C system and change them regularly.
posted by dondiego87 at 8:38 AM on February 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I also have allergies (dust mites). Here's what works for me:

- Air purifier in my bedroom. The Sweet Home has a great guide that recommends a few models and also tells you what to look for.
- I also love my saline nasal rinse. I don't use Neti Pot, I prefer NeilMed squeeze bottle, it's much easier. Start doing this before the allergy attacks, as it's a little awkward
- Allergy meds. I like Allegra because supposedly it's the least drowsy (I also take it at night). It's also now generic (and super cheap at Costco). Everyone seems to have an allergy med that they like best (Claritin, Allegra, Zyrtec).
- Flonase has also been a game-changer. It's also available generic.
- Vacuum with a hepa filter

I am also considering doing allergy shots to reduce my immune response.
posted by radioamy at 9:21 AM on February 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Meant to say that it's better to start the saline nasal rinse before you're totally clogged. Otherwise it can be hard to get the "flow" through.

If you don't like the saline rinse the first time, try again the next day. For me it took about 3 times before it worked. And then it was amazing!
posted by radioamy at 9:32 AM on February 16, 2017

Yes on changing home air filters - buy and wear a serious mask, like an N95 rated thing you get from the hardware store with disposable filters, and change them every month during the spring. They make disposable sticky mats for entrances into workplaces trying to contain dust; that can help with tracking it in. Creating a two-door entrance (like an airlock, or a mudroom) would help too, but Atlanta doesn't do that in home or apartment design that often. But if I'm honest, nothing solved this until we moved out of the South and it solved 50% of our sinus issues, and moving to Colorado has dropped that by half again.
posted by deludingmyself at 10:07 AM on February 16, 2017

Not much of a neti pot guy myself but I love my Navage nasal irrigating gadget. I pretty much stopped using sprays or pills, a rinse works wonders.
posted by fixedgear at 12:06 PM on February 16, 2017

As deludingmyself suggests - you have to get pretty hardcore to avoid it as best as possible without either living in a tightly sealed HVAC paradise and never going outside, or moving. My allergist consults an apparently super famous guy here in my town where allergies are also ranked highly terribly, and he told the guy the same thing.

But practically, you can try the usual stuffs.
posted by bitterkitten at 12:18 PM on February 16, 2017

In Spring, when I leave work, my car is coated in pollen that wasn't there in the morning.

When I get home, I immediately change clothes, wash my face (make sure to get eyebrows and eyelashes), and use the neti pot. It's gross, and it's unpleasant, and immediately afterwards it makes me feel like I inhaled water while swimming, but 20 minutes after using the neti pot I end up feeling so. much. better.

I start taking Flonase in January, and I take Zyrtec at night before bed. I don't bother with the Benadryl anymore because it doesn't seem to make a difference the next day, except to make me tired. Zyrtec is under $15 at Costco for a 365-day supply.

One other thing -- OTC antihistamine eye drops are wonderful if your eyes are affected.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:39 PM on February 16, 2017

I'm also in Atlanta and as much as I love warm days in February the blooming trees are making my eyes twitch and itch.

I subscribe to a daily pollen count email from Atlanta Allergy & Asthma. It helps me prepare.
posted by Constant Reader at 2:56 PM on February 16, 2017

Nasalcrom is a spray that is not a steroid. It's done wonders for my husband for years.
posted by bq at 2:58 PM on February 16, 2017

Allergy shots are great. It's a commitment, but was worth it for me. The shots themselves aren't painful, if that's a concern -- it's the regular appointments that can be a drag.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:58 AM on February 17, 2017

Also in Atlanta and struggling with the same thing. Lots of good suggestions above that I also follow, but I would add that if you wear contacts, in addition to using Zaditor (and following package instructions regarding contacts), consider switching to peroxide-based contact cleaner, which gets off so much more of the pollen every night. I use Clear Care, but there is also PeroxiClear which is the same as far as I can tell.
posted by hydropsyche at 7:30 AM on February 18, 2017

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