The sneeze season


Formerly published in The Other Press. Mar. 12 2013

How to survive seasonal allergies

By Elliot Chan, Staff Writer

It is ironic that the season synonymous with rejuvenation and birth is also the period of the year that makes me feel like dying. No, I’m not being melodramatic; I just have a really bad case of hay fever. Running nose, itchy eyes, and endless sneezing are the crippling symptoms of spring allergies. They are not fatal the same way food allergies can be, but they can ruin a day, a week, or even a couple months. But those who have never experienced the horrible trials of blooming flowers will consider the suffering snifflers to be sick and disgusting, and offer little sympathy. It is the price we pay for a nice summer day—that is, if we can survive to see it.

Allergy medications are often the easiest solution. There are pills, sprays, and eyedrops all developed to soothe the symptoms. There is a whole aisle in the store dedicated to allergy relief. But with budgetary problems, I tend to conserve the pills for dire situations, meaning in moments where the sneezing and itching are too unbearable. Drugs may take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours to kick in, and because of their inconsistent reliability, they only work as a crutch. I am skeptical of modern medicine; some days I preach it and some days I curse it. Sometimes it’s best to find natural coping methods for chronic problems like allergies.

Spring allergies are mainly caused by the large amount of pollen in the air, so if your symptoms are bad, stay away from floral areas or simply remain indoors. Consider getting an air purifier inside your house to clean the air. Since Vancouver will remain frigid until early June anyways, there is no need to keep the doors and windows open. Locking yourself away from the world may seem like a horrible alternative to sneezing, but there will be days when breathing is more important than frolicking in a field.

Allergies are not limited by the weather. They can be as agitating on rainy days as they are on sunny days. But the heat plays a big part in our ability to cope with the discomfort. Sneezing and sniffling take up a lot of energy and the sun beating down on you while you inhale through your clogged nose can be absolutely draining. So seek out air conditioned places or stick your head in the freezer just to get a moment of relief.

A shower is another very effective way to deal with spring allergies. Because allergens like pollen are airborne, most of them travel on you or with you. A shower and a change of clothes will rid you of the particles that you have collected throughout the day.

There are moments where you’ll feel that the only way to deal with allergies is to attack them aggressively, but all that will do is leave you with tissue rash under your nostrils and multiple other agitations. Allergies should be dealt with methodically and should not cause frustration. Familiarize yourself with a routine to cope. Recognize the time of year they usually happen. Schedule your day accordingly so you don’t spend large periods of time outside or in dusty areas. Understanding what causes your agony is the best way to avoid it or at least bare with it until the season turns.

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