Springtime brings with it a new sun, fresh grass, and beautiful, bright flowers opening up to the warmth. For around one in ten Americans, it also means it’s time to load up on over-the-counter antihistamines for spring allergy symptom treatment, like itchy and water eyes, runny noses, sneezing, coughing, and all-around discomfort.
Pollen, the tiny grain products from trees, weeds, and grasses is usually to blame. Depending on the plants they come from, pollens can travel on the wind, or by hitching a ride on insects. Pollens that have to travel by insect are typically too heavy to become airborne, so they are not often a problem for allergies.
On the contrary, pollens that ride the wind are much lighter. Most of the time, they don’t get where they are trying to, sadly. Rather, they find their way into throats and noses of millions of allergy sufferers.
People who are sensitive to breathing in pollens often find themselves with an allergic reaction known as hay fever. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 26.1 million people in the U.S. experience the symptoms of hay fever every year.
Even though hay fever is usually considered a seasonal allergy problem, the actual “season” in which hay fever occurs might vary depending on the location and climate. Every plant has a unique pollinating period that changes slightly every year.
For instance, those allergic to the pollens from grasses might be afflicted by hay fever in the late spring-early summer period, while people who are vulnerable to ragweed allergies (the most common allergen) regularly experience symptoms in late fall.
Some unfortunate and very sensitive individuals experience hay fever all year, and have symptoms whose severities depend on the pollen counts in the air.
If you have pollen allergies, stay up-to-date on local pollen counts. Pollen counts are measurements of the levels of pollen in the outside air during the day. However, just staying inside on high pollen count days will not completely save you from pollen.
The small grains of pollen can hitch a ride on your clothing, slip through open windows, and nestled in the fur of your pets. Getting completely rid of pollen in your environment is impossible, but you can limit your contact with pollen. The American Medical Association recommends these tips:
Stay inside as long as you can on high pollen count days, particularly during the hours of 5 in the morning and 10 in the morning, when quickly increasing temperatures tell plants to begin pollinating.
Try not to work in the yard during pollen season. Try to find someone in your family or a neighbor who isn’t allergic to pollen to do the yard work.
If you have to mow the grass, tend to the garden, or rake the leaves, use a particle mask and goggles to keep from making your eyes itch and water.
Just because you have pollen allergies doesn’t mean that spring and symptoms like sneezing are related. Find out what your pollen triggers are. Steer clear of being outdoors when and where you will likely come into contact with high pollen counts.
Consult your physician for the best method of treating allergy symptoms when they happen.