Spring Allergy Season Is Upon Us, So Start Your Precautions Now to Avoid a Miserable Reaction

while there isn't much you can do for many allergies, it's possible to manage seasonal allergies and avoid the triggers

Spring Allergy Season Is Upon Us, So Start Your Precautions Now to Avoid a Miserable Reaction
Image: NCCC
April 1, 2019

Spring temperatures are finally here. But don't rejoice just yet since it's also the time of the year when you can write your name in yellow pollen everywhere. If you're one of the unfortunate people who suffer from seasonal allergies, you're probably already barricading the doors and windows for the oncoming siege. But there are things you can do to treat and prevent seasonal allergies.

What triggers allergies?

Nearly everyone develops an allergy, and some are worse than others. If you have an allergy to a particular food or even and insect sting, you know just how serious an allergic reaction can be.

An allergic reaction occurs when your body treats a particular substance as an invader in your body and responds by producing large amounts of chemicals called histamines to neutralize the invader. Depending upon how sensitive you are to a particular substance, your immune response or reaction could be minor or life-threatening.

symptoms of allergic reaction

Histamines cause the tissues in your body to swell, which can be anything from uncomfortable to downright life-threatening. The most common symptoms of allergic reaction is from pollen and is called hay fever or rhinitis, which includes sneezing, itchy eyes, nose or mouth, stuffy or runny nose, and red or swollen eyes. Some people develop itchy skin rashes called hives.

If you have an allergy to a food, drugs, or insects, your reaction is probably more serious. In these cases, the allergen is distributed throughout the body and causes systemic swelling. Depending upon the severity of the reaction, you may experience tingling or swelling in and around the mouth, a large area of swelling, wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath. In the most serious cases, you can go into anaphalaxis, which is life-threatening and causes your immune system to release so many chemicals that your body goes into shock.

Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies are the most common type of allergy, and they run all year long. These allergies are due to substances in your environment, which is usually pollen but may include dander, dust and mold. Depending upon your allergy triggers, you may only have symptoms of an allergic reaction for a few months each year. If you have a wide variety of allergies, you may have to take precautions all year in order to be comfortable.

Grass is most common seasonal allergen

The pollen we most often associate with seasonal allergies is the pine tree pollen that falls each spring and coats our clean cars in a layer of yellow. But an allergy to tree pollen is not the most common. That honor falls to grasses, which are predominant during the summer months. But if you do have an allergy to tree pollen, it's probably to birch, cedar and oak, which produce highly allergic pollen. Allergies in the fall months are predominantly weeds, with ragweed being the most common. Common causes of weed allergies also include sagebrush, pigweed, lamb's quarters and tumbleweed.

Fighting allergies

If you are fighting allergies to food, insects and drugs, there's not much you can do other than to avoid your allergic trigger. But if you're fighting seasonal allergies, you can't really stay inside a bubble all year. Thankfully, there are things you can do to lessen the effect of seasonal allergies.

Medications containing antihistamines, drugs which counteract the effect of histamines, can help relieve many different allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, itching, a runny nose and watery eyes. Decongestants provide temporary relief from stuffiness, but shouldn't be used long-term. Nasal rinses can also provide quick relief from nasal congestion.

If medication isn't what you're after, try staying indoor on dry, windy days. Avoid mowing the lawn or working in the garden, which can stir up allergens. If you must do these chores, wear a respirator that is designed to filter pollen and avoid the early morning when pollen counts are highest. And don't forget to remove clothes outside that may have accumulated pollen and rinse off in the shower immediately.