Spring is here! I know this not because I heard peepers over the weekend, or because a single daffodil is blooming in my backyard, or because the birds are singing. To me, spring starts when a light brush of my finger across my eyelid quickly escalates to wanting to scratch my eyeballs out. My eyes get very itchy, goopy, puffy, and irritated (think perma-pink eye). My throat is sore, and my nose runs for months at a time. In some instances I lose my voice or develop a pounding headache. I take wads of tissue to bed with me so I can blow my nose throughout the night. Yes, I have seasonal allergies.
I’ve never been tested for allergies, and I feel that my allergies are not severe enough for me to seek medical help. But I’ve realized over my lifetime that I am allergic to the following:
- pollen and overly fragrant plants like gardenias
- smoke, especially cigarette smoke
- artificial fragrances
Since I’ve diagnosed myself, I also treat myself. I did once get eye drops, years ago, but I’ve found that no medicine works as well as simply not touching my eyes in the first place. The best thing I can do is avoid the allergens, so I try not to stir up the dust in my house by cleaning too often, I try not to let dish towels sit and develop a musty smell, I distance myself from smelly flowers, and I try to stay away from overly-perfumed people and smoke. Any combination of these allergens seems to increase my irritation exponentially, so I especially try to avoid the easy ones, like fragrances in my own home or cigarette smoke. (Fortunately for me, few public places in Connecticut allow smoking anymore.)
I’ve made an effort to keep my son away from these potential allergens, too, since I’m not yet sure if he’s inherited my allergies. Studies have linked both indoor and outdoor air pollution to infant deaths from respiratory complications and SIDS. Exposure to cigarette smoke is a major risk factor for SIDS, as babies are 3.5 times more likely to die of SIDS if both parents smoke than if neither parent smokes.
Unfortunately, there are some things that I can’t control. People who have allergies or asthma are especially vulnerable to atmospheric pollution, so it’s just another reason for me to fight for clean air.
Do you have allergies or asthma? How do you cope with them?