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Coping With Pollen Allergies
Spring, lovely spring. Those of you who live in colder climes are probably singing this song as the days grow longer and warmer, and trees and grasses begin to bud and bloom. But unfortunately, some of those trees may produce the pollen that many allergy sufferers dread. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the number of adults diagnosed with allergic rhinitis or hay fever as 17.6 million. According to experts, more pollen is expected this year as trees and shrubs thrive as a result of all the rain and snow we have been having.
How to know if you have an allergy
When pollen comes into contact with nasal passages, it produces sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and coughing. Some people may even experience sinus pressure, scratchy nose and throat. Dark circles may develop under the eyes as a result of vein congestion in the face.
Pollen allergies have also been linked to poor sleep, fatigue, poor concentration and depression. Pollen allergies can also trigger an asthma attack, which can be dangerous.
Do you suffer from pollen allergies? If yes, what treatment(s) do you use?
What you can do – keep away
You may not be able to avoid pollen contact altogether, but you can take steps to minimize it. This means avoiding those areas, as far as possible, where pollen-bearing trees and/or grasses are found. In the spring and summer, pollen count is usually highest in the evening. Time your outdoor activities accordingly and wear a face mask to filter out pollen if you must do yard work. Keep doors and windows closed and keep fans and air-conditioner running. This is especially crucial for asthma sufferers.
Some treatment methods
- Avoid pollen where possible
- Take over the counter medications
- See your physician or allergist
- Keep fans, air-condition filters and purifiers clean
- Try natural remedies
What you can do - clear the air
Be careful to keep fans clean and change A/C filters once a month. You may purchase electrostatic filters which create a static charge to capture allergens. However, these too must be cleaned frequently to maintain their efficiency. The same goes for a humidifier, if you use one to reduce humidity in your home.
Air purifiers are another option to rid the air of pollen allergens. Air purifiers range from small desktop units to large floor models that cover up to 1100 square feet. If you choose to go this route, make sure the one you buy meets the strict requirements for HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) for large and small particles. Be aware that the allergens must only be around in limited quantities so as not to overwhelm the appliance. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation, the air purifier will not get rid of allergens like dust mites which do not stay airborne. http://health.howstuffworks.com/diseases-conditions/allergies/indoor-allergies/air-purifier-help-allergies.htm
Other things you can do
1. Try OTC medications
Many over –the- counter medications are available in the form of pills and sprays. Among the most common are Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec and Allegra.Some people have found that taking these as preventative measures, before your allergy starts, can help to keep away or minimize an attack.
2. Take a shot
Some allergy sufferers say that OTC meds become ineffective after a while as the body gets used to them. Such people may find better relief from allergy shots. Injections are given over a period of three to five years, and the doses are gradually increased so the body builds up immunity to the allergens.
3. Go natural
If you are wary of taking medications to relieve your allergies, you may wish to try natural remedies. Irrigating your nose with a saline solution may help relieve stuffiness. You may purchase ready-made saline from your pharmacy, or you can make your own by mixing a teaspoon of salt in a pint of warm, distilled water and adding a pinch of baking soda.
Try herbal supplements
Name of herbs
What is it
Enzyme in pineapple
Makes breathing easier
May cause allergic reactions with some foods (Web MD)
Extract from butterbur root
Prevents hay fever symptomswithout drowsiness
Use only PA-free butterbur as other products may damage the liver, lungs and cause cancer
Flower; eye wash
Treats itchy eyes
May cause allergy to ragweed and other plants
Ingredient in herbal tea
Relieves hay fever symptoms
Generally safe but don't use if you are allergic to ragweed and related plants (WebMd)
Breaks up chest congestion and loosens phlegm
May cause miscarriage in 12th week of pregnancy (Medline)
Blocks histamine. Builds the immune system
Generally safe in moderate doses. More than 5 cups per day can be harmful (Medline)
Reduces eye irritation and hay fever symptoms
May cause itching of the mouth and nose, blisters in the mouth, runny nose(WebMd)
Blocks histamine, prevents hay fever symptoms
Large doses may cause kidney damage. Safe in short-term use (WebMd)
How to recognize pollen allergy symptoms
So remember, if you suffer from pollen allergy, minimize contact with pollen allergens as far as possible and use one or more of the methods above to treat your condition. In addition, be sure to drink lots of water and maintain a healthy diet. The information given here is by no means intended to be medical advice. If you suffer from any form of allergy, see your physician or an allergist who will determine the best course of treatment for you.