We thought it would never happen, but spring has arrived. If you’ll believe it the first day was officially March 20th, although in our part of the woods old man winter wasn’t letting up his hold. Now that the warm weather is here and the days grow longer we’ll start to see the spring blossom. That brings another, not so welcome, season. Allergy season.
Allergy season means many different things to different people. For some it means itchy eyes. Others get stuffy noses or sinus congestion and let’s not forget the body shaking sneezes that don’t let up. Some unlucky people, like asthmatics, get severe airway reactions that can even land them in the hospital. The first season consists of tree pollen which runs from March to June. If this is the time of the year when your symptoms are at their worst chances are that you’re allergic to tree pollen. This is followed by grass which runs from May to August. Lastly, and by far the worst, comes weed season which runs from July to September.
Pollen counts can fluctuate based upon weather patterns, like wind, sun and rain as well as time of day. You can check with your local weather what the predicted pollen count is expected to be for the next couple days. Needless to say, high pollen count means more severe symptoms. That’s why weed season tends to be so bad. Weeds churn out high amounts of pollen and have the ability to spread quite far. The amount of weed pollen in the air in August can sometimes be double to triple the amount of other plant pollen.
What can you do to help curb your allergies? The best solution is in avoiding triggers. Don’t go out in the morning when the pollen count is at its highest. Wash your hands frequently as you can inadvertently rub pollen into your eyes or brush it into your nose. Keep your clothes and sheets at home clean. Pollen accumulates on them and can trigger your allergies even when indoors. If you have nasal allergies you can try applying some Vaseline to the inside of your nose with a q-tip. This traps pollen before it can travel further down and into your nasal passageway. Saline (salt-water) rinses can soothe your nose, throat and eyes.
Antihistamines are the number one medicated option used to treat allergies and are available at almost all pharmacies over the counter. Recently steroid sprays have also become approved for over the counter use. While very effective they are not without some side-effects and you should speak with your doctor before relying on them too heavily. In more cutting edge news, allergy drops are making their way into the US healthcare system. For many years, doctors in Europe were providing their patients with small doses of allergens that, over time, desensitize their patients to their specific allergies, effectively ‘curing’ them. This lends credence to some suggestions that say you should eat local. By eating locally grown food you’re consuming the pollens common to the area and potentially desensitizing yourself. Another great reason to support our local farmers.
Got questions for yourself or a loved one? Write in to TheHealthyWay@NCHSI.org or write in to:
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