Surviving Spring Allergy Season
It’s that time of the year, spring is in full swing and winter is slowly becoming a memory. While some people will be planning family picnics, trips to the ballpark and other ways to enjoy the warm weather, 35 million Americans will be preparing to deal with spring allergy symptoms.
Allergic rhinitis, or hayfever, is triggered by “allergens,” substances that initiate an allergic response, such as pollens or molds. Many trees, grasses and weeds have small, light and dry pollens that are easily carried by the wind. Some of the major outdoor allergens that cause allergic reactions during this time of year are trees such as oak, elm, birch, ash, hickory, poplar, sycamore, maple, cypress, walnut, and western red cedar; and grasses such as timothy, Bermuda, orchard, red top, and sweet vernal. In late summer and fall weeds such as ragweed, sagebrush, pigweed, Russian thistle and cocklebur, become problematic for allergy sufferers.
People with allergies experience symptoms resulting from a reaction triggered by allergens to which a person is sensitive. These typically inhaled allergens combine with an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE, the “allergic antibody,” is normally present in very low levels, but is found in larger quantities in people with allergies. This pairing of the allergen and IgE causes the release of chemicals such as histamine which cause inflammation in the nose and airway leading to symptoms of itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, a runny nose, drowsiness and headaches.
An important component of any allergy management plan is avoiding the pollens and molds that make you sneeze and wheeze. Following are some tips to help you lessen your exposure to seasonal allergens:
Keep windows closed at night to prevent pollens or molds from drifting into the home.
Use an air conditioner and dehumidifier to keep air clean, cool, and dry.
Keep car windows closed when traveling.
Minimize outdoor activity on days when the pollen count or humidity is reported to be high or on windy days when mold and pollen are blown about. To find out the pollen count for your area, visit our website at www.texallergy.com.
Take vacations to a more pollen-free area, such as the beach or sea.
Use a paper mask when mowing or raking which stirs up pollens and molds.
Avoid hanging sheets or clothing out to dry, pollen and molds collect on them.
Take medications as prescribed in the recommended dosage. Do not take more medication to alleviate severe symptoms.
Take a shower after spending time outdoors to remove pollen and mold that may be on your skin and hair.
Since allergies can lead to other chronic conditions such as asthma, they should not be taken lightly. If seasonal allergy symptoms are making you miserable, you should consider seeing an allergist. An allergist will take a thorough history and conduct tests to determine what is triggering your symptoms and work with you to develop a management plan, which may include medication and certain environmental controls.