Coping with Seasonal Allergies
Aah..ahhh..choooo! And, that’s how it starts! Before you know it, you are in a full-blown allergy attack mode and carrying tissues everywhere you go. With eyes watering, throat itching/burning, sinus drainage, nose running… you go about your day. By the time night falls, this thing has you exhausted into a weepy pile of mush. So, how do we go about coping with seasonal allergies? What are seasonal allergies? Do you know your triggers? What’s your favorite brand of tissues?
What are seasonal allergies?
Seasonal allergies — also called hay fever and allergic rhinitis is an immune disorder characterized by an allergic response to pollen grains and other substances. The most common culprit, here in Western Kentucky, for fall allergies is ragweed. Ragweed blooms and releases pollen from August to November. In many areas of the country, ragweed pollen levels are highest in mid-September. However, that’s not the only culprit in this area. These can also pack a punch: Cocklebur, Pigweed, Sagebrush, and Russian thistle.
When allergy season comes around, don’t worry, with more than 25 million Americans suffering pollen allergies from trees, grass, or weeds, you will never be alone in your misery. As many as 30% of U.S. adults and 40% of children are in the same boat as you.
Why Allergic Reactions Happen
Your immune system has an important job: to defend your body from invaders such as bacteria and viruses that mean you harm. But, when it makes war on substances it shouldn’t, that’s an allergy. The pollen is your trigger and you are experiencing an allergic reaction to it. Why do some people experience allergic reactions to pollen when others don’t? Well, the answer, in part lies in your genetics. If your parent had an allergy, then the possibility of you having one is higher. Genetics aren’t the only cause, just a precursor.
What happens during an allergic reaction?
During a reaction, your immune system releases antibodies. These are proteins that deliver a message to cells: Stop that substance! The cells then send out histamine, which causes blood vessels to expand, and other chemicals, and these trigger the allergy symptoms. These antibodies are singled-minded. Each one targets only one type of allergen.
Your allergy attacks might range from mild and annoying to more severe and even life-threatening. It all depends on the way your body reacts and how much of the allergen got into your system. You could have: sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, nose and/or roof of your mouth, coughing, and red, swollen and watery eyes.
An ounce of prevention
Try these simple strategies to keep seasonal allergies under control.
Reduce your exposure to allergy triggers:
To reduce your exposure to the things that trigger your allergy signs and symptoms (allergens):
- Stay indoors on dry, windy days. The best time to go outside is after a good rain, which helps clear pollen from the air.
- Delegate lawn mowing, weed pulling and other gardening chores that stir up allergens.
- Remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair.
- Don’t hang laundry outside — pollen can stick to sheets and towels.
- Wear a pollen mask if you do outside chores.
Take extra steps when pollen counts are high:
- Seasonal allergy signs and symptoms can flare up when there’s a lot of pollen in the air. These steps can help you reduce your exposure:
- Check your local TV or radio station, your local newspaper, or the Internet for pollen forecasts and current pollen levels. Try com to access the pollen count in your area.
- If high pollen counts are forecasted, start taking allergy medications before your symptoms start.
- Close doors and windows at night or any other time when pollen counts are high.
- Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.
Keep indoor air clean:
- There’s no miracle product that can eliminate all allergens from the air in your home, but these suggestions may help:
- Use the air conditioning in your house and car.
- If you have forced air heating or air conditioning in your house, use high-efficiency filters and follow regular maintenance schedules.
- Keep indoor air dry with a dehumidifier.
- Use a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your bedroom.
- Clean floors often with a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter.
Kidz World, in no way, is advising or instructing our readers medically. However, through the Mayo Clinic, there is information on possible relief through over-the-counter medications.
These treatments can be used for adults and children.
Oral antihistamines. Antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching, a runny nose and watery eyes. Examples of oral antihistamines include loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy) and fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy).
Decongestants. Oral decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Afrinol, others) can provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Decongestants also come in nasal sprays, such as oxymetazoline (Afrin) and phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine). Only use nasal decongestants for a few days in a row. Longer-term use of decongestant nasal sprays can actually worsen symptoms (rebound congestion).
Nasal spray. Cromolyn sodium nasal spray can ease allergy symptoms and doesn’t have serious side effects, though it’s most effective when you begin using it before your symptoms start.
Combination medications. Some allergy medications combine an antihistamine with a decongestant. Examples include loratadine-pseudoephedrine (Claritin-D) and fexofenadine-pseudoephedrine (Allegra-D).
Other alternative treatments include: rinsing your nasal cavity with a neti pot and saline solution, acupuncture, and aroma therapy.
The best and safest medical advice is always, seek professional diagnosis from your doctor. Don’t worry, as the old proverb says, “And, this too, shall pass.”
Author: Belinda Davis ©2017