Ah, spring! The flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and you are sneezing, congested, and have a runny nose. The coughing and itchy eyes may indicate seasonal allergies. In a significant portion of the United States, spring allergies begin in February and continue through early summer. It starts with tree pollination, followed by grass pollination, and then ragweed which is the most common trigger of allergies. A mild winter and a rainy spring can exacerbate the unpleasantness. Let’s have a look at what causes these allergies and then hopefully find ways to make spring a little bit more pleasant.
The symptoms of seasonal allergies are varied and can range in severity from mild to severe. Symptoms may include:
A runny nose
Watery and itchy eyes
Itchy throat or ear canals
A seasonal allergy occurs when your immune system identifies an airborne substance as dangerous. The response to the material is a release of histamine and other chemicals into your bloodstream. These chemicals are what produces the symptoms of an allergic reaction. As previously mentioned, ragweed is the number one cause of seasonal allergy. Other triggers include mold, tree pollen, grass pollen, and weed pollen. The severity of a seasonal allergy depends on factors that include:
Tree, grass and ragweed pollens thrive during cold nights and warm days.
Heat and high humidity cause molds to proliferate.
Pollen levels tend to rise in the morning hours.
Rain can wash the pollen away, but pollen counts can soar after rainfall.
A day with no wind increases airborne allergens.
When the day is windy and warm, pollen counts surge.
Moving to another climate to avoid allergies is usually not successful because allergens are virtually everywhere.
Help is on the way! The primary method for finding relief from seasonal allergies is to reduce your exposure to seasonal allergens:
Try to stay inside your house on dry, windy days. The ideal time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
Avoid lawn mowing, weed pulling and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.
Take off clothes you have worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
Don’t hang laundry outside because pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
Consider wearing a pollen mask if you do outside chores.
Check the weather, and if pollen counts are unusually high, try these additional steps:
Make a habit of checking pollen forecasts and current pollen levels.
When high pollen counts are in the forecast, start taking allergy medications before your symptoms begin.
Shut your doors and windows at night or any other time when pollen counts are high.
Make an effort to avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.
It is essential to know what triggers your seasonal allergies and then address them. Prescription and over-the-counter medications may help to alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergies. Numerous over-the-counter products can help you deal with the effects of seasonal allergies including:
Remember that treating your symptoms with over-the-counter and home remedies may not be enough. If you have severe seasonal allergies, an ENT or an allergist may be able to help you. Skin and blood testing are effective at identifying triggers so appropriate treatment can begin. Allergy shots may also be useful in helping you cope this spring. Don’t suffer this spring, take action and find out what is causing your misery and then take steps to stop it.