Fresh out of winter colds and right into spring allergies! Our poor nose can’t get a break and half of our salary is wasted on tissue paper! Can we do anything about this situation? Let’s see!
Each year, 35 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies (Rhinitis), more commonly known as hay fever. This happens because trees start to blossom and pollen is released into the atmosphere. This natural event interferes with our normal breathing, and affects those who suffer from allergies.
When grains of pollen get into the nose of a person who suffers from allergies, it triggers the immune system. This causes the immune system to wrongly react, and view the pollen as a foreign invader! Antibodies are released, which attack the allergens. This in turn leads to further release of chemical substances in the blood called histamines. These substances trigger runny noses, itchy eyes and other symptoms we know as allergies. Between 5 and 10 in the morning is when pollen content is most intense. Symptoms also worsen on windy days and in zones near trees or shrubs that produce allergy. On the other hand, during rainy days, we will find some relief!
How can we detect allergies? Seasonal allergies are similar to a cold and include:
- Runny nose, rhinitis
- Itchy eyes, nose and throat
- Watery eyes
Apart from the symptoms, you can always visit a doctor to get a correct diagnosis and treatment. It is even more important to visit an allergist before spring comes around. This will give you time to check on your allergies, discuss treatment options and take preventive measures.
When allergies intensify they can trigger asthma. This disease is characterized by narrowing of the airways, which impair normal breathing. In some cases (and I have been through this), allergies intensify leading to bronchitis. In some cases this includes swollen glands and contraction of the ribcage, which further complicates the issue.
Preventive measures can include:
-A visit to the allergist to get a test (this skin test involves injecting a small sample of diluted allergen beneath the skin to analyze the reaction). If you are allergic, a small, red bump called a papule will result. You can also get a blood test.
– Keep your home clean and free of dust. A good “spring” cleaning before the season arrives would be ideal!
– Track the hours during the day when more pollen is in the air, and avoid going out during those hours.
-Clean moldy and damp areas in your house. Places like basements, attics, storage and bathrooms.
There are several types of over the counter medications available, which can help you to deal with allergy symptoms. I personally recommend an allergist before you take any of these medications!
-Antihistamines reduce sneezing, mucus and itching. It does this by reducing the amount of histamine (substance produced during an allergic reaction) in the body.
-Decongestants alleviate congestion and swelling.
-Antihistamines / decongestants combine the effects of both pharmaceuticals.
-Decongestant nasal sprays help alleviate congestion. They can help clear obstructed nasal passages much quicker than oral decongestants.
-Eye drops help to relieve watery eyes.
Always read the symptoms list and instructions of the medication. Remember: Some of these over the counter treatments cause drowsiness. You should be careful when taking these types of medication, especially if you handle heavy machinery or drive!
I wish you a “sneeze free” spring!
Until the next time!