Ah, spring! For the athletically inclined, that means out with basketball, swimming, and hockey, in with baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse… and for some of us, seasonal allergies! As any allergy sufferer knows, it can be tough participating in spring sports when the air is thick with pollen and you feel like you’re fighting not just to score your next point, but to take your next breath.
The more you’re outside, the more you’re exposed to pollen and other allergens, so you could just sit inside all day. But who wants to do that when spring has sprung and the playing fields and courts are calling your name? You’ve managed your allergies in other aspects of your life, and you can do the same when it comes to spring sports!
Here are some tips and tricks to stay healthy while playing spring sports:
- Check air quality forecasts and pollen levels: Keep an eye on the air with sites like pollen.com by the National Weather Service or AirNow.gov by the EPA. If you know the air is particularly bad, it may not be the day to run extra sprints or go for a personal record.
- Hydrate: Every athlete knows the importance of drinking water, but allergy sufferers should be especially conscious of it. Being hydrated helps thin out mucus which reduces sinus and chest congestion. Plus, decongestant medications can cause dehydration, so be especially careful if you take one.
- Start with a dose of prevention: Remember to take your daily allergy meds, and always have emergency medication with you.
- Throw some shade: Putting on a pair of shades can drastically reduce the amount of pollen that gets in your eyes, decreasing symptoms like itching and watering. Go for a pair in the wraparound style for maximum coverage. They also make you look super cool!
- Keep it clean: After practice or a game, shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes to get rid of allergens that have stuck to you. Also, leave your cleats or sneakers at the door to keep from tracking allergens all over your house.
A note to parents: Whether you’re a soccer mom or a lacrosse dad, watching your child struggle with allergies during the spring sports season can be tough. In addition to following the tips above, here are a few more just for you:
- Speak up: Speak to your child’s coach at the beginning of the season. Be sure they know the scope of your child’s allergies, warning symptoms to look for, where emergency medication is located, and how to administer it.
- Keep an eye out: Aside from watching your son or daughter become the next great sports legend, keep a lookout for serious allergy or asthma symptoms. Kids aren’t always great at knowing when to rest or take a break. Of course, you don’t want to embarrass them forever by calling them off the field over concern for their health, so consider a prearranged signal between the two of you to let them know when it’s time to slow down. Be especially conscious of this on days you know the air quality is poor.
- Consider different sports: If spring allergies are just too much of a struggle, remember that there are many great indoor athletic activities for your child to fall in love with. Swimming and water polo are particularly good choices because water sports have a low rate of environmental allergens. Karate, indoor rock climbing, gymnastics, and dance are just a few of the endless options!
Remember, too, to see your friendly local allergist regularly to get up-to-date diagnoses, medications, and advice! We here at AAPRI are always here for all of your asthma and allergy care needs. Now lace up your cleats, grab your gear, and get out there and have the best season ever!