During the seemingly never-ending winter of 2018, it felt like a new season was an absurd notion. But as we move toward May, the cold weather is slowly flagging against the hint of warmer days to come. For the most part, this is excellent news: You get to put your puffy parka into storage, you're no longer paying obscenely expensive heating bills, and — best of all — you get to go outside. But there are some cons here, too: As spring finally sets in, you now have to spend a lot of time figuring out how to treat your allergy headache, because that pollen is seriously no joke.
Allergies are pretty much unavoidable. If you have them, you're inevitably going to find yourself sneezing up a storm during that official first week of allergy season, when you've been caught unprepared, without your nasal spray or your daytime allergy meds to keep you afloat. But some allergy symptoms can feel more severe than a sneezing fit, and can start to affect the quality of your days. For example, headaches are an extremely common symptom of allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).
If your headache feels connected to your allergies, the AAAAI reports it's most likely a sinus headache.
These headaches are often triggered by nasal or sinus congestion (aka all of that sniffling and sneezing), and the pain is usually centralized in the middle of your face, behind the eyes and nose.
Sinus headaches, specifically, happen when your sinuses (aka your nasal passages) become swollen, thus causing a build-up of pressure and icky congestion, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Usually, these headaches become less painful when you move from lying down to sitting or standing up, which might explain things if you tend to wake up with an awful, splitting headache in the morning during allergy season, but seem to feel better as the day goes on.
If you don't feel better as the day progresses (or you even start to feel worse), don't panic. Just because an allergy-related headache isn't going away, that doesn't mean you're totally doomed, or that it's a sign of something bigger.
If you keep suffering through awful headaches during peak allergy season, it might be time to take some preventative measures.
First, you want to try to limit the time you spend outside, if pollen is what's triggering your symptoms. I know, I know — that's a bad solution when the warm weather has finally arrived, but peak pollen season is actually a series of peaks and waves, so it won't be bad forever. Plus, you can usually see how bad the pollen is just by checking the local weather online. Investing in an air conditioner or purifier for your bedroom might be a good idea, too.
While you try to stay inside and hide from the pollen, you obviously can't keep your windows wide open, because that would basically defeat the purpose. Instead, make sure you have a solid air-conditioning setup going on, and try to keep your apartment as free of dust and airborne debris as possible (vacuuming once a week should do the trick).
Another tip from Health Guidance suggests washing your clothes as soon as you get home on especially bad allergy days, since they're most likely accumulating pollen when you walk outside.
If none of these remedies seem to work for you, then you might want to invest in some over-the-counter decongestion meds, or even make an appointment to speak to a doctor.
Your allergies aren't anything to panic about, but any sort of bodily pain that gets in the way of you living your life is definitely something to address. Speaking to your doctor will help you get a better idea of how to approach the situation, and what it is, exactly, that you're dealing with. Besides, you want to miss as little warm weather as possible, so there's no point sitting on this.
Headaches can be miserable, but if you try to plan ahead and stay one step ahead of the sinus and congestion game, your nasal passages and your body will totally thank you for it.