Spring allergy affects millions of people around the world. Symptoms include sneezing, stuffiness, runny nose, and itching of the nose, palate, throat, eyes, or ears. These allergic reactions are caused by pollen and mold spores in the air, which start a chain reaction in the immune system.
Close-up of white hibiscus with yellow pollen
The immune system controls how the body defends itself. For example, if we are allergic to pollen, the immune system identifies pollen as an invader or allergen. It’s react is exaggeratedly producing antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to the cells that release chemicals, causing an allergic reaction.
What is pollen?
Pollen is composed of small grains needed to fertilize many kinds of plants. Pollen from flowering plants, such as roses, usually does not cause allergies. These plants rely on insects to transport pollen for fertilization. On the other hand, many plants have flowers that produce pollen powder that is easily spread by the wind. These are to blame for allergy symptoms.
Each plant has a pollination period that does not vary much from year to year. However, the weather can affect the amount of pollen in the air at any time of the year. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is often caused by tree pollen in the spring. During the late spring and early summer, grass pollen usually is the cause of many of the symptoms.
How does time influence?
The symptoms that usually appear when we suffer allergy are often less accentuated on rainy, cloudy or windless days, because the pollen does not move in these conditions. Pollen tends to travel more in hot, dry and windy weather, which can increase allergy symptoms.
Some people think that moving to another area of the country can help decrease their symptoms. However, many types of pollen (especially grasses) are common in most areas, so moving to escape your allergies will not be a feasible solution. In addition, it is likely to find new allergens wherever we go.
What about the treatment?
If your seasonal symptoms are making your life a real caliber, an allergist / immunologist, often called an allergist can help.
Your allergist has the training and experience to determine what
Allergens, in your case, are causing the symptoms. This information will be the basis of a treatment plan to help you feel better. Your personalized plan will include measures to avoid contact with allergens. You will also talk to your doctor about medications for temporary relief of symptoms.
If symptoms continue for many months of the year, your allergist may recommend allergy immunotherapy (allergy shots). This treatment implies that they receive regular injections in gradually increasing doses. This helps your immune system to be more resistant to the specific allergen and decrease its symptoms as well as the need for medications.
As for the recommendations?
There are some simple recommendations to limit exposure to pollen and relieve allergies that cause these symptoms as bothersome:
- Keep the windows closed at night and if possible, reduce the use of air conditioning, which cools and dries the air.
- Try to stay home when the levels of pollen in the atmosphere are especially high. If your symptoms are severe, wear a pollen mask if long periods of exposure are unavoidable. When you go back inside, take a shower, wash your hair and change your clothes.
- Avoid being responsible for cutting the lawn or raking the leaves. This removes pollen. Also avoid hanging sheets or clothing in the open.
- When traveling in a car, keep the windows closed.
- Take the medicines as directed.