Written by Amialya (Mia) Durairaj, MSc
Oh, seasonal allergies. I've always assumed that my annual sneezing and eye-itching were an inevitable part of life. Sort of like how 90% of people make a weird face the precise moment that they get their license picture taken at the DMV. (Or maybe that's just me.)
It turns out that, unlike my awkward ID picture, there is much we can do to predict and address allergies before the season begins.
And with these new forecasting capabilities so too are there opportunities to reduce the impact of allergies on your day-to-day life.
Curious? Allow me to explain.
In the United States alone, approximately 40 to 60 million people suffer from allergic rhinitis (aka. hayfever). Hayfever can cause congestion, irritation, sleeplessness, headaches, respiratory difficulties, fatigue, and other symptoms that can put a definitive damper on your well-being.
While some unfortunate souls experience allergies all-year round, most people have a season where symptoms wreak the most havoc. Naturally, the allergy season usually happens to coincide with one of the most beautiful times of the year: spring. (Evolution, it would appear, has a twisted sense of humor.)
As of my writing, we are smack dab in the allergy season. While there used to be no accurate way to predict when and where allergies will strike, Sickweather has changed the game. Not only can we forecast when and how allergies develop on a population-level, but we can predict what will happen 15 weeks in advance.
How do we do it? Well, we compile social media data, along with self-reports from our users, and correlate the results back to the CDC, Nielsen, and others. We run this information through our custom predictive software. Then, we bake the data at 350 degrees until its golden brown and.... ok, let's just say that the exact recipe is kind of a Sickweather family secret.
So what is on the docket for the allergy season in 2018? Well, one thing that we can say for certain is that April this year is going to be the sneeziest month for allergy sufferers (see national allergy forecast report below). But the good news is that it so far does not appear to be the doozy that 2017 was.
The graph above comes from Sickweather's paid Sickweather PRO dashboard. Selling this customizable reporting tool to clients is how we keep our Sickweather mobile app free of charge.
(current week is 15)
Here are the things you can do before, during, and after the peak plateau (the point in the year where allergies are at their apex) to help you weather the season with nary a runny nose:
- Stock up on over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal decongestants, and eye drops. Trust me, the last thing you want is to make a desperate run to the pharmacy only to find the shelves in the allergy aisle ransacked like a Zombie apocalypse movie.
- Vacuum frequently, especially your carpets.
- Try to stay indoors during the peak plateau, especially between the hours of 5am and 10am. If you do have to go out, consider donning a mask.
- Wear glasses to avoid getting irritants stuck in your contact lenses.
- Change your air filters! We strongly recommend using only high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) absorbers.
- Leave your shoes at the door and shower regularly to remove the particles that collect on your skin, clothes, and hair.
- While you are at it, skip the perfume, cigarette smoke, and other irritants.
- Head to your allergist to see if there might be something else you are allergic to. If your allergies are on the severe side, consider asking them whether allergy shots or prescription medications could work for you.
- Lastly, consider downloading the free Sickweather mobile app on your iPhone or Android phone to get local, up-to-the-minute information about allergies in your area.
Our free Sickweather app gives you up to the minute news on what is going around.
When it comes to the allergy season, knowledge does equal power. With the help of our Sickweather app, you can monitor the current climate in your area and make smarter decisions on the fly.
And, by implementing my above suggestions, perhaps you could avoid having bloodshot eyes during your next DMV photo shoot. But probably not -- after all, some things in life really are inescapable.
Do you want to put our 15-week allergy forecast and custom reporting to work for your organization? If so, check out our Sickweather PRO offering. It uses machine learning and seasonal models to forecast weekly allergy reports. We update data every day so that the information stays fresh and never frozen.
About the Author
Sickweather contributor Amialya (Mia) Durairaj, MSc is a freelance writer focusing on health and nutrition. She has over 12 years of health communications for large for- and non-profits like UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Save the Children, and AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Based in San Diego, CA, Mia spends most of her time running around after her twin girls. You can learn more about her at LittleOctopus.org.