SPRING IS BEAUTIFUL, BUT IT ALSO BRINGS SEASONAL ALLERGIES.
During spring the trees, grass and flowers start blooming and release pollen into the air. These pollen cause seasonal (spring) allergic rhinitis (hay fever) in susceptible individuals. In these individuals, there is a release of inflammatory mediators from the mast cells, histamine and other allergy-causing chemicals. Adults can develop seasonal allergies, no matter your age. Allergies develop when your immune system mistakenly identifies a substance such as pollen, mold, animal dander, or food as harmful. That substance is referred to as an allergen.
As far as timing is concerned, tree pollens can trigger symptoms in the late winter or spring while ragweed releases pollen in the summer and fall.
Symptoms include sneezing; red, tearing eyes; postnasal drip; sinus headaches, feelings of sinus fullness; and itchy, scratchy throat.
Inadequate allergy treatment can result in complications including acute or chronic sinusitis, middle ear infections, chronic fatigue, flare up asthma and sleep disturbances.
Nonsedating antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, inhalant corticosteroids, and eye drops with antihistamines and mast cell stabilizers help control these symptoms.
Immunotherapy—ie, the use of allergy shots—can reduce sensitivity to allergens. A course of allergy shots takes 3-5 years.
A newer treatment, sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), in which the allergen is placed as drops under the tongue, is believed to be as effective as allergy shot therapy.
Allergy prevention measures include the following:
- Limiting exposure to pollen and other allergens by remaining indoors on days when the pollen count is high, or air quality is poor.
- Keeping windows closed during the morning since pollen counts tend to be high at this time of day.
- When driving, putting the car’s ventilation in recirculation mode or using the air conditioner, which can limit the amount of pollen exposure.