The change of seasons often brings a sense of wonderment and joy for many people. Activities like watching cherry blossoms bloom in the spring or leaves change to autumn hues are momentous occasions. While a seasonal change is a sign of beauty and a new beginning to many, there are a staggering amounts of people who feel miserable. Itchy eyes, scratchy throats, and wheezing are the symptoms of this misery. At the very root of these issues are pollen allergies. Pollen is made up of the male cells in flowering plants. Through the seasonal changes pollen floats through the airstreams to fertilize. During this flowing action, pollen can be inhaled. This causes the allergic reaction.
Pollen allergies have many symptoms and can vary by person. The most common symptoms are sneezing, watery eyes, nasal congestion, running nose and itchy throat. If a person has asthma, it can be triggered by the pollen as well. Sometimes in extreme cases and especially in children, pollen allergies can cause sinus infections and even ear infections. Pollen allergies are often mistaken for the common cold. Colds generally will dissipate fairly quick, where as a pollen allergy with seem to linger. A good way to tell the difference is by looking at the symptoms. A cold is accompanied by hoarseness, sore throat, and often a fever. Generally a pollen allergy lacks these symptoms. These allergies are often more prevalent in the spring but can be all year long.
Before anything, if you notice symptoms of an allergy, it is best to consult your physician. Once you know whether you are suffering a pollen allergy, your doctor can run tests to see what exactly is causing the allergy. From this point there are many treatment options available for the allergy sufferer. Please note, even if you did not visit your doctor yet, following some of this treatment may be able to guide you in whether this is something to bring up to your doctor.
First, simply keeping your doors and windows closed as much as you can helps to eliminate the pollen from coming into your home. If possible, use an air-conditioner instead of fans during the hot months. This is especially important if you are in your car. Instead of driving with your windows down, use your car’s air conditioning system to filter and eliminate pollen in your vehicle.
If you are planning a vacation, try to vacation in an area low in pollen. Places like the beach are good for the allergy sufferer. There is a minimal amount of pollen. Also, signing up for pollen alerts through The Weather Channel, can let you know when pollen is at its highest and what type of pollen is most active. If you must be outside wearing sunglasses will prevent pollen from contacting your eyes. It is also important to change clothes and shower when you return indoors. This will remove pollen from your body.
When landscaping your yard, choose trees that do not aggravate allergies and ground covers that don’t produce much pollen. Some good choices include crape myrtle, dogwood, palm, pear, redwood, and redbud trees, and Irish moss, bunch and dichondra. Also, if need be, try and find someone else to rake your leaves and mow your lawn as both can trigger a pollen allergy attack. If this is not at all possible, wear an air mask when mowing.
Many sufferers turn to medication to treat their pollen allergy symptoms. Sometimes allergies are bad enough to where it is a necessity to use medication in order to function fully. There are a number of different types of medications that a doctor may prescribe.
The first kind of medications is nasal corticosteroids. These are inflammatory medications sprayed directly into the nose to relieve nasal congestion and other symptoms. There are many types of name brand nasal corticosteroids. Some of the more popular brands are Flonase and Nasonex.
Another type of medication is the antihistamines**.** These drugs counteract the action of histamine, a substance released in the body during an allergic reaction. They are available over the counter or by prescription. Some are taken by mouth; some are sold as nasal sprays. Antihistamines available over the counter include: Allegra (fexofenadine), Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Chlor-Trimeton (chlorpheniramine), Claritin (loratadine), and Zyrtec (cetirizine). Prescription antihistamines include Clarinex (desloratadine); they are available only with a doctor’s prescription.
A third type of medication is the decongestants. Like antihistamines, these drugs are available by prescription and over the counter, and come in oral and nasal spray forms. Sometimes they are used along with antihistamines. Some products contain both an antihistamine and decongestant. For example, Allegra-D, Claritin-D, and Zyrtec-D contain an antihistamine and the decongestant pseudoephedrine.
If you feel that you are suffering from any of these issues, especially now in the springtime, it could be time to talk to your doctor about pollen allergies. Even if you never had an allergy as a child, sometimes as adults allergies develop or become more apparent.
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