Today, diagnosing and treating seasonal allergies (allergic rhinitis) is fairly easy. If you suspect that your symptoms are linked to outdoor allergens, you can take an allergy test to reveal exactly what your immune system is reacting to (and what to avoid). But what if your allergy symptoms don’t track to a clear source or follow a predictable pattern?
An estimated 45 million Americans suffer from some form of nonallergic rhinitis. Nonallergic rhinitis can be triggered by fluctuations in the weather, changes in your indoor environment, or alterations to your diet and medications. Although this condition produces the same symptoms as allergic rhinitis (sneezing, congestion, coughing, and runny nose), it can’t be diagnosed from an allergy test or treated with antihistamines.
If your allergy test came back negative and your doctor has ruled-out infection, medication, and diet triggers, it's likely that your indoor environment is at fault for your discomfort. Your Awair device can help you identify your unique triggers and uncover ways to feel healthier in your space.
Keep a Symptoms Journal
Tracking your symptoms will help you identify patterns and narrow down the list of potential triggers. Your symptom journal can be a physical notepad, or a digital document on your smartphone. Whatever note taking style you prefer, make sure to record:
- The type of symptoms you’re experiencing
- The time your symptoms arose or became more severe
- Where you were when the symptoms occurred/worsened (the more specific you are, the better).
- What activity you were doing before symptoms arose (If you were eating, what were you eating? If you were exercising, what type of exercise were you doing?)
- Any notes that you think are relevant.
Track Changes in Your Indoor Environment
Set up your Awair 2nd Edition to track temperature, humidity, CO2, Chemicals (VOCs), and fine dust (PM2.5) levels in your home. When you experience allergy-like symptoms indoors, open the Awair app and record the current values for each factor in your symptoms journal. You can also navigate to "trends" to see how each factor fluctuates throughout the day and how the current trend compares to that of previous days.
Some types of nonallergic rhinitis are triggered by moving from one extreme environment to another. In the summertime, for example, your symptoms may worsen as you travel between hot and humid outdoor environments and over-air conditioned buildings. If you suspect that your symptoms are related to the weather, look up outdoor humidity and temperature levels in your Awair app and add these factors to your journal entries.
Look for Patterns
After two weeks, review the data you've collected and see if any correlations become apparent. Do you find yourself coughing more when humidity drops below 40 percent? Do you sneeze more just after cooking a meal when PM2.5 levels are highest? Tracking environmental factors in correlation with your symptoms will help you recognize if and where patterns exist.
Oftentimes, environmental factors like fine dust and chemicals can be influenced by your habits and the products you use. If you find that your PM2.5 or chemical levels are consistently high, you can use your Awair device to troubleshoot the effectiveness of different solutions.
Placing multiple Awair devices throughout your space will give you insight into how your air quality varies between rooms — and where to focus your attention. For instance, you may find that humidity levels are highest in your bathroom and that humidity rises in surrounding rooms after you shower. If that’s the case, cleaning your bathroom ventilation system and running your bathroom fan when you shower may help to keep indoor humidity levels healthy.
Treat Your Symptoms by Managing the Root Cause
In some instances, getting relief from your symptoms may require changing your habits. For example, you may be sensitive to dust or mold, but find that your symptoms seem to worsen after cleaning your home. Although cleaning is a great way to keep fine dust and mold in check, the cleaning products you’re using may be adding VOCs to your air and aggravating your symptoms further. In addition to properly ventilating your space, think about ways to cut down on the amount of indoor pollution you generate.
If changing your behaviors doesn't have a significant impact on your air quality, you may need to invest in another appliance (such as an air purifier, humidifier, dehumidifier, or fan) to help circulate your air and keep your home healthy. To make things even easier, you can plug your chosen device into Awair Glow to automatically manage your environment and power on the device when readings become unhealthy.
Ready to begin investigating your allergy symptoms with your Awair device? Download our Symptoms Journal Template below to get started.