Why Colorado Residents May Not Be Suffering As Much From Allergies This Year

Some people in Colorado are reporting that their allergies aren’t as bad this spring in comparison to previous years. There just doesn’t seem to be as much hacking, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes going around. CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida says there’s a reason for that.

“You know, there’s very little good you could say about having this pandemic — it has been horrible — but one thing that has come out of it because of the social distancing, because of the hygiene, because of masks, we’ve seen several things take place to a smaller degree. For example, flu in Colorado was really at historically low levels and same thing took place nationwide; we really hardly saw any influenza. And the same seems to be taking place with allergies, nationwide and beginning here early in our allergy season in Colorado. And that primarily has to do with masks,” Hnida said in his weekly question & answer session on CBSN Denver.

“We wear masks in order to protect ourselves from viral particles which are very, very small. But it turns out that masks also protect us from pollens, and pollens are actually bigger particles. They are more easily blocked by masks. And so people will wind up having lesser allergy symptoms if they are masked up.”

So what type of mask is best for keeping allergic reactions to things like tree pollen and grass to a minimum?

“When you get down to it, probably the most practical mask to help you during allergy season is the cloth mask because you can wash it frequently and reuse it frequently,” Hnida said.

For those who still are experiencing a lot of eye itching, eye watering, sneezing, nose stuffiness and runny noses, here are some helpful guidelines that Hnida shared in an earlier blog entry:

– Avoid early morning outdoor activities — that’s when pollen counts tend to be highest.

– Change your clothes and wash your hair after doing outdoor activities, so you are not carrying allergy particles into the home.

– Be sure to shower and shampoo before bed to keep those pollens off of your pillow.

– Clothes and pets should stay outside of the bedroom.

– If you do decide to try allergy medicine, take it before heading outside — it works better at preventing symptoms than treating symptoms.

If this situation becomes really severe, see your doctor. Doctors generally “have a few tricks up our sleeves to help figure out the diagnosis, and can treat whatever is ailing you,” Hnida wrote.

Hnida says that as long as people continue using masks, “I think we’re going to see fewer people having the severity of allergy symptoms they maybe had in years past.”

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