Seasonal allergies are triggered by substances that are only found in the air at certain times each year. When you're exposed to one of these substances, you may experience symptoms such as sneezing and itchy eyes. If you're a travel nurse, dealing with seasonal allergies is even more difficult than usual because you are frequently exposed to new environments. Keep reading for tips on how to prevent allergy symptoms and relieve them if they do occur.
Travel nursing and seasonal allergies
As a travel nurse, you are especially susceptible to seasonal allergies because you must travel to a new place every time you accept a short-term assignment. When you arrive in a new state, you may be exposed to allergens that are not as common at home. Additionally, temperature, humidity and precipitation all play a role in determining how far an allergen spreads. For example, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that people with pollen allergies often have more symptoms in dry areas than in humid areas. When it's dry, the lack of moisture in the air lets the pollen travel farther when the wind blows. If an assignment takes you from a moist environment to a dry one, you may experience a worsening of your allergy symptoms.
Seasonal allergy triggers
One of the most important ways to avoid seasonal allergies is to learn some of the most common triggers and accept new assignments accordingly. In the spring, tree pollen is a major allergy trigger. The pollen comes from many types of trees, including juniper, maple, elm and oak, according to the Merck Manual. If you have seasonal allergies in the summer, grasses and weeds are typically the culprit. Ragweed is a major trigger of seasonal allergies in the fall months.
Now that you know the most common allergy triggers for each season, you can plan your work schedule accordingly. If you tend to be bothered by tree pollen,look for spring assignments in areas that do not have many trees. Although major cities do have trees in parks and other public areas, they tend to have fewer trees than suburban communities, so a contract in New York City or San Francisco might be the answer. If grasses and weeds trigger your allergy symptoms, look for assignments in areas landscaped with stones, mulch and shrubs rather than ornamental grasses and ground plants.
If you're ready to find a new assignment, visit Onward Healthcare to find current openings for travel nurses.
Allergy prevention tips
When you accept a new assignment, you can reduce your risk of developing allergy symptoms by taking a few precautions.
- Move to an apartment complex that includes lawn maintenance and landscaping in your monthly rent. Letting someone else do yard work can help you avoid allergens associated with grasses, weeds and trees, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- If you spend time outdoors, wash your clothing as soon as you get home to prevent allergens from getting on your furniture and rugs.
- Take an over-the-counter allergy medication when the pollen count is high.
- Wait until afternoon or evening to participate in outdoor activities. Pollen levels are highest in the morning.
- If you're too warm, use a fan or air conditioner instead of opening the windows.
- Keep the air moist by using a humidifier.
- Vacuum frequently to remove allergens from your home.
- Set up a HEPA filter in your new apartment, as recommended by the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
Dealing with seasonal allergies once they start
- If you find yourself sniffling and sneezing even after taking the recommended precautions, follow these tips for dealing with seasonal allergies.
- Take an over-the-counter medicine to control your allergy symptoms. If the medication label lists dizziness or drowsiness as a potential side effect, wait until you are off duty before taking it.
- Visit your doctor and ask about prescription allergy medications. If you just started a new assignment and don't have a local doctor yet, visit an urgent-care center instead.
- Consider starting immunotherapy (allergy shots), which has been shown to help people tolerate allergens instead of reacting to them, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
Traveling around the country is one of the main benefits of becoming a travel nurse. For people with allergies, however, frequent travel can lead to an increase in seasonal allergy symptoms. When you're ready for your next assignment, follow these tips for dealing with seasonal allergies to alleviate your symptoms and increase your comfort.