By Ear, Nose & Throat Surgeons of Western New England, LLC
May 15, 2014
Spring Allergens At An All-Time High: What Makes Them Better (And What Makes Them Worse)
When you see the telltale dusting of yellowish-green on your car, you know what’s not too long to follow: the itching, sneezing and wheezing of seasonal spring allergies. Pollen counts seem to grow by the year, and the Western New England area is no exception.
Beating Spring Allergies
The first step to beating spring allergies is to know your enemy: pollen. This yellowish-green dust mentioned earlier is a grain-like substance area plants release into the air to fertilize plants. While this may help all the beautiful flora and fauna grow, it can wreak havoc on your allergies. When you inhale this pollen, your body perceives it as a foreign substance, just like a virus for the common cold. This sends your body into overdrive, releasing inflammatory compounds called histamines that make your eyes water, your nose itch and you to sneeze your head off.
The best ways to fend off spring allergies is to prepare yourself. You can visit our site on a daily basis and scroll to the bottom of the homepage, clicking on “What Is the Pollen Forecast?” If the pollen counts are exceptionally high on a certain day, you’re probably not going to want to go outside without taking some allergy medication first. Breezy days are especially troublesome because the wind carries pollen, often straight to your doorstep.
Another factor that can worsen your allergies is what time you spend outside. For example, pollen counts tend to be the highest early in the morning until about 10 a.m. If you need to work outdoors, time your work for later in the afternoon. While you are working, wear a mask and washable clothing. You should also shower immediately after returning from working outdoors.
Medications and Immunotherapy for Allergy Relief
Over-the-counter allergy medications can definitely improve your symptoms, but it’s important to choose carefully. For example, some allergy medications contain pseudoephedrine, which can affect your blood pressure and heart rate. If you are especially sensitive to these effects, you may need to choose a different antihistamine, such as cetirizine, fexofenadine or loratadine. These may not address all your symptoms, however.
Allergies are more than discomforting -- they are closely connected to asthma, which can affect a person’s ability to breathe. Allergies can also affect your work or school performance. After all, it’s pretty hard to concentrate when you’re sniffling and sneezing.
If you aren’t seeing relief from your allergy symptoms, make an appointment to come see us at one of our locations. You may require adjustments of allergy medications or stronger allergy medications. We can also recommend a number of potentially beneficial interventions, including air filters that minimize the amount of pollen in the air. We also offer immunotherapy or controlled exposure to allergens to de-sensitize your body’s immune system reaction.
Immunotherapy is a preventive treatment for allergic reactions to substances such as grass pollens, house dust mites and bee venom. This preventive treatment process involves giving gradually increasing doses of the substance, or allergen, to which the person is allergic. Through these incremental increases of the allergen, the immune system becomes less sensitive to the substance, potentially causing production of a “blocking” antibody, which reduces the symptoms of allergies when the substances are encountered in the future. Immunotherapy can also reduce the inflammation that characterizes rhinitis and asthma.
All these therapies can come together to finally help relieve your allergy symptoms.