Tips to manage your seasonal allergies
The Pacific Northwest has some of the highest pollen counts in the U.S. This is especially true for alder trees and grasses. Even within Oregon’s cities, pollen counts can vary widely. They tend to be lower in places where there’s less vegetation, like Portland. In rural areas, pollen counts can be significantly higher. These are areas where there are more grasses, shrubs, and trees — especially evergreens.
Roughly 10%–30% of Oregonians suffer from allergies. It’s also common to develop them as an adult. Regardless of your age, here are tips to help reduce your allergies:
Watch the pollen counts — The amount of pollen in the air tends to be higher in the morning. It’s also high on hot, dry, and windy days. If possible, plan your time so you can avoid being outside when the pollen level is at its worst. Visit
pollen.com or download the app to view the current count in your area.
Limit pollen on your face — Wear an N95 face mask while doing yardwork. Wear a hat when you’re outside. Also, wash your face more often to prevent pollen from sticking around your nose.
Rinse your sinuses — Use a neti pot, bulb syringe, or squeeze bottle to squirt warm saline solution into your nasal cavity when your symptoms flare up. It can help clear out your sinuses, so you feel less stuffed up.
Reduce pollen in your home — Keep your doors and windows closed. Leave your shoes at the door. Change your clothes when you get home. Shower before going to bed. Don’t let your pets sleep with you since they might carry pollen on their coats. Vacuum your home weekly. Wash your sheets once a week in hot soapy water. Also, use the dryer instead of a clothesline.
Improve the air quality in your home — Consider buying an air purifier with a HEPA filter for your bedroom. If your home has an air conditioner, use a filter with a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) of 11 or higher. These remove a higher percentage of allergens.
Before you stock up on more tissues, know that
OEBB’s medical and prescription drug plans
may be able to help you manage your allergies. If you’re suffering, try using your benefits to enjoy a sniffle-free summer.
New York Times, April 21, 2022
What’s triggering your allergies?
An allergy is your immune system’s reaction to a foreign substance, called an allergen. Allergens can include something you eat, inhale, touch, or inject. Allergies can cause your body to respond in uncomfortable ways.
If you have allergies, you’re not alone. More than 50 million people in the U.S. have seasonal allergies each year. In fact, allergies are the sixth-leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S.1 Most people with allergies have more than one type.
Allergies come in many forms, such as:
- Environmental (seasonal, mold, pets, pollen, ragweed, etc.)
- Drug (penicillin or other antibiotics, aspirin, etc.)
- Food (dairy, eggs, peanuts, shellfish, wheat, soy, fish, corn, etc.)
- Insect (bees, wasps, hornets, etc.)
- Latex (latex gloves, balloons, Band-Aids, etc.)
And allergies can affect different body parts. Seasonal allergies typically affect your nose and sinuses. Drug allergies often affect your skin or breathing. Food allergies generally affect your intestinal tract or can cause headaches. And insect and latex allergies often make it difficult to breathe.
Allergies can develop at any time in your life. It’s common for children to have allergies that they eventually outgrow. Some allergies — such as peanuts or shellfish — often last throughout a person’s life. In some areas of the country, adult-onset allergies are common. This is true in the Pacific Northwest.
The best way to manage your allergies is to stay away from whatever is triggering them. But that’s not always possible. With serious allergies, you simply must avoid exposure to the allergen completely (e.g., peanuts, latex, insect bites). You may also need to always carry life-saving medication with you. When avoiding the triggers isn’t possible, over-the-counter and prescription medications can help. However, they often come with side effects.
If you’re suffering with allergies, OEBB’s benefits can help. Your medical plan offers benefits to identify what’s causing your symptoms. Start with your primary doctor. For more severe allergies, your primary doctor might refer you to a specialist. Click
to view your OEBB benefits for primary doctor and specialist visits.
You can also take medication or injections to help with allergies. If over-the-counter drugs aren’t enough, your OEBB prescription drug benefits offer coverage for certain allergy medications and injections. Click
to view your pharmacy benefits. You can visit your plan’s website to view the list of medications that are covered, which is called a formulary.