Allergy Lessons

Person with allergies, blowing noseRunny nose, itchy eyes, brain-rattling sneezes … must be spring! In many parts of the U.S., spring allergy season begins in February and can last until early summer.

what can make spring allergies so brutal — and how you can manage all that sneezing, wheezing, itching and sniffling.

Why springtime is prime-time for your allergies

The medical name for allergies is Allergic Rhinitis, or hay fever. And when these really attack a person, they can significantly affect your quality of life. In fact, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports that allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States.

They’re miserable, leaving you with itchy swollen eyes, a congested nose, with sneezing that can blow your doors off. When it gets worse, you can’t get out of bed, you can’t sleep, you can’t focus on your work. Again, it’s miserable.

But when springtime comes around it’s basically “the perfect storm” for allergies.

  • Everything’s in bloom. Tree pollen is the worst. This time of year can produce plumes of yellow, billowing clouds of pollen. Every day you could run a finger across your windshield and spell your name in pollen. People who are especially susceptible to this allergen are particularly miserable this time of year.
  • Location location location. In this case, warmer is not better. Temperate climates have not one, but three basic pollen seasons: spring (tree pollen), summer (grass pollen) and fall (weed pollen and mold). And one season just transitions straight into the next one. So if you’re allergic to tree and grass pollens it can be a mess for you. Also, without winter weather or frost to stop trees and plants from producing pollen, allergy seasons just don’t end.
  • The Global Warming effect? Absolutely. Just like the point above, warmer weather favors longer allergy seasons. Because of the warming climate, spring pollination has gotten worse in the last 10 to 20 years, with longer and more intense pollination seasons. This seems to be a worldwide trend.
  • Knock it out of the air. Rainy weather is better than dry windy weather. I remember as a kid in the South how those spring rain storms would turn the gutters, sidewalks, and driveways completely yellow. Well, all that used to be in the air, waiting on your nose to breath it in. So when you notice that you’re having a run of dry beautiful days in spring, just be prepared for allergies as a result.

How do I know if I’m having an allergic reaction

Below are some of the more common symptoms of allergies:

  • Head congestion. Think stuffy or runny nose, sinus pain and headaches.
  • Coughing and — in people with allergic asthma — wheezing or shortness of breath.
  • Red, itchy, swollen or watery eyes.
  • Dry, scratchy or sore throat with postnasal drip. You may even experience pain when you swallow.
  • Itchy skin. If you come into direct contact with an allergen, you could even experience contact dermatitis, which can manifest as an itchy rash, blisters or swelling.
  • Fatigue and brain fog.

Why are mine worse than other people’s symptoms

What if your Misery Index is through the roof. But you look around at others and they’re just fine, or happily just sniffle along until June. Why are you saddled with a sinus plague? Unfortunately, everyone experiences allergies a little differently, and that can range from an annual debilitating condition to basically no symptoms at all.

How you respond to a trigger depends on how many antibodies you have to that specific allergen.

What now?

The best solution is to consult your GP doc. You can do a skin test to find out what you’re allergic to, but we know that the main culprits are going to be those beautiful blooms of springtime. So it may not be helpful to try to prevent allergies, but to mitigate it as best you can.

  1. The number of allergens are SO broad, and
  2. The person-by-person reaction to them all are SO varied, that
  3. it’s impossible to give any kind of one size fits all answer.

So talk to your doc about how you specifically are reacting to the parade of allergens you have to contend with, so they can craft a solution that makes the most sense for you.



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