It's spring in Southern Idaho and for allergy sufferers the nightmare has just started. Stuffy noses, watery eyes, dry, itchy skin, itching, shortness of breath, coughing, sneezing, and wheezing are just some of the joys of the season. So what's causing our allergies to go haywire, and what can we do about it?

What's Causing It?


According to WebMD, the main culprit is dust and dander. They are listed as "extremely high" in Twin Falls and the Magic Valley right now. Tree pollen is high, and mold--thanks to the rain lately--is moderate.

Another factor affecting many of us is that despite the Safe Air For Everyone Act of 2007, local farmers are still burning their fields to clean off the stubble and make them ready for planting. I get that this is the most economical way to do it, but it's killing those with allergies and breathing conditions. There has to be a better way.

What To Do

  • Spring pollen season starts much earlier than many people think: If you have to take any kind of medication for your seasonal allergies it’s best to start around mid-February.
  • Know your over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medications: Three main kinds of over-the-counter medications are used to help control seasonal allergies: topical nasal sprays, inhaled corticosteroids, and antihistamines; oral antihistamines; and decongestants. Each has their benefits and potential side effects. Decongestants make me sick to my stomach.
  • Control Allergies by Controlling Your Environment: Keep an eye on the pollen counts, and try to plan more of your outdoor work for days when pollen counts are expected to be low and it’s not so windy. Also an inexpensive face mask can help. I wear one to mow the lawn.
  • Natural Allergy Remedies: One popular tool is the neti pot, which flushes out your nasal cavities by using gravity to rinse them with a saline solution. Studies show that neti pots are effective for minimizing seasonal allergy symptoms.
  • See an Allergist: If the latest batch of antihistamines in your medicine cabinet isn’t doing the trick, a visit to an allergist can bring relief.

As someone who has been fighting every day for the past two weeks for some kind of relief, I’m ready to try anything. Hang in there. We’re all in this together.

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