My Love Hate Relationship with Spring

I live in the beautiful mountains of South East Oklahoma. Spring begins early here with jonquils poking up as early as February. We have a wide variety of hardwoods resulting in so many shades of green that spring colors rival the beauty of fall.

I do love spring. That is, I love spring until the sneezes and itchy eyes begin. In addition to grass and tree pollen, mold from all the spring rains plays a role in my seasonal allergies. We have an abundance of cedar tree and they are my worst irritant.

Treating my dry eye symptoms

When my allergy symptoms get bad I use Zyrtec. If used for short periods of time, Zyrtec helps relieve my symptoms. Unfortunately Zyrtec is in a class of medications that causes my dry eyes to worsen.

The second medication I use is Flonase, a steroid nasal spray. It is especially helpful to reduce swelling of my nasal passages. Dry eyes is not listed as a side effect but it can raise the pressure in my eyes.

The dilemma

We have a  beautiful English style flower garden. I love to walk the rambling paths, taking in the beauty of each flower. Enjoying the flowers comes at a high price. The sneezes start along with red itchy eyes. Before I developed Chronic Dry Eye (CDE), I would use allergy drops to help with the redness and itching. Because allergy drops can worsen CDE I no longer use them.

Each day I have to  decide whether to treat my allergies or endure the misery for the sake of my eyes.

Alternative treatment

After researching alternative ways to lessen seasonal allergies, I found ways to lessen my symptoms without reaching for Zyrtec or Flonase.

  1. Limit time outdoors. Pollen counts are lower early in the morning. I take my daily walks early in the morning. I work in our flower beds earlier in the day.
  2. Shower after exposure. I usually mow the lawn late evening.  Showering and washing your hair gets rid of pollen before bedtime.
  3. Rinse my eyes. With CDE I use lubricant eye drops at least 4 times a day. I rinse my eyes with artificial tears after each time I am outdoors.
  4. Run the air conditioner. As much as I love the smells of spring, I keep my house tightly closed up and run the air conditioner. I also run the air conditioning in my car and make sure outside air isn’t drawn in.
  5. Use nasal spray. I use saline nasal spray to remove pollen any time I have been outdoors.
  6. Cold compresses. Cold compresses can soothe itchy eyes but doesn’t work well for me with meibomian gland dysfunction. The cold hardens the oils making my dry eye symptoms.

A balancing act

In spite of seasonal allergies I love spring. It is a balancing act to care for my dry eyes and relieve allergy symptoms. Have you found ways to relieve your allergy symptoms without making your dry eyes worse? If so, please share your tips in a comment below.

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