Spring: a time for growth, new life, warmer weather, getting outdoors again. But it's also a prime time for seasonal allergies.
The biggest allergy trigger in spring is pollen. Trees, grasses, and weeds release pollen into the air to fertilize other plants. As pollen is released and gets in the nose of someone who is oversensitive (allergic), the immune system mistakenly sees the pollen as a danger and releases antibodies to attack the allergens. That leads to the release of chemicals called histamines into the blood. Histamines trigger the symptoms that allergy sufferers contend with.
Seasonal allergy (also called hay fever or allergic rhinitis) symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Red, watery and itchy eyes
In addition to tree pollen, grass, weeds, molds, and animal dander allergies are also common in warmer months.
When spring is over, nature can bring on summer allergies! Again, pollen remains the biggest instigator. And while trees are usually finished pollenating, grasses and weeds still trigger summer allergies.
RAGWEED is one of the most common instigators. Wind can carry ragweed hundreds of miles, so even if it doesn’t grow where you live, it can make you feel bad if you’re allergic to it. Ragweed and pollen counts tend to be particularly high on breezy days when the wind stirs up these sneeze-inducing grains. Rainy days, on the other hand, wash away the allergens.
A few tips when pollen and ragweed counts are high:
- Check the pollen forecasts and levels in your area.
- Start taking allergy medications before your symptoms start.
- Keep doors and windows closed.
- Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are high.
AIR POLLUTION can make your symptoms worse. High levels of low-level ozone are serious health concerns in large cities (and have been linked to asthma). Low-level ozone is created in the atmosphere from a mix of sunlight and chemicals from car exhaust. Summer’s strong sunlight and calm winds create clouds of ozone around some cities. As with pollen, you can check the ozone level in your area.
FLYING INSECTS (bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, fire ants and others) are more active in the heat and can cause allergic reactions if they sting. If you have a severe allergy, a run-in with one of these insects could lead to a life-threatening situation, such as anaphylaxis.
MOLDS love damp areas, including basements and bathrooms. Microscopic insects called dust mites peak during summer. They thrive in warm, humid temperatures and nest in beds, fabric and carpets. Like mold spores, their residue can get into the air and set off allergic reactions.
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