By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
It’s spring again, and for most people in Mexico, that means enjoying the beautiful burst of pink, blue and lavender colors from the blooming jacarandas and bougainvillea flowers, refreshing walks in the park to take in the sun, and a long-awaited reprieve from the torments of Jack Frost nipping at their heels.
But for the country’s 25 million allergy sufferers (yours truly included), spring means the onset of hay fever season.
According to the Maximiliano Ruíz Center for Asthma and Allergies (IAAMR), about 30 percent of all Mexicans and more than 40 percent of Mexican children suffer from seasonal hay fever, a biological reaction to plant pollens that releases histamines in the body and triggers sneezing, runny noses and itchy eyes.
In fact, the IAAMR says that hay fever and other allergies are the sixth-leading cause of chronic illness in Mexico.
So what is a stuffy-nosed seasonal allergy sufferer to do?
There are some simple steps that the IAAMR recommends to help reduce the effects of pollen allergies and manage hay fever symptoms.
First and foremost, take an over-the-counter antihistamine to reduce sneezing and watery eyes.
Non-drowsy formulas are the best in most cases because they will let you stay alert and functioning on a normal basis.
Also, try to avoid being outside, especially during windy weather and when pollen levels are at their highest.
The Mexico City government has a free app that you can download to your smartphone or other devices that can tell you current pollen levels across the city, as well as pollutant and ultraviolet radiation levels.
When indoors, keep doors and windows closed, and if possible, use air-conditioning or a room air purifier to reduce the amount of pollens you are exposed to.
Since hay fever tends to be aggravated by dry air, using a room humidifier can also help.
Vicks has a great Cool Mist humidifier on the Mexican market that can do wonders to decrease seasonal nasal congestion and sore throats, and its noiseless feature lets you go about your daily routines without the annoying hum of a droning buzz in the background.
(Humidifiers also work wonders for your complexion, reducing irritation from dry skin.)
If you have to go outside during high-pollen periods, use a cloth surgical mask. (That may not make for the best fashion statement, but neither does a runny nose.)
Always take a shower or bath after outside activities to wash away residual pollen from your body.
And if your symptoms persist or become more severe, consult your doctor.
All of these bits of advice may be cold comfort for hay fever sufferers, especially since the IAAMR has warned that Mexico may be in for one of the worst allergy seasons in decades.
But they should help to make spring a little more bearable and cut down on those sneezes and stuffy noses.