Be Well: Allergies

Allergies. The dreaded word comes with a host of symptoms that include itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing and congestion.

Not unlike other allergies, seasonal allergies develop as the body’s sensitivity and reaction to an allergen that doesn’t normally cause a reaction to other people.

Generally, allergy season begins in February and lasts until June or July, depending on the weather. Springtime allergies are most commonly caused by mold, tree, grass and weed pollen. Mild winters can cause these plants to pollinate early, causing the variation from year-to-year.

Trees are usually the first pollinate, followed by grass. If the Spring is particularly damp and rainy, expect an increase in plant and mold growth, and inevitably, and increase in allergy-causing pollen.

Since the weather can be unpredictable, for those who suffer with seasonal allergies, it is a good idea to start taking an antihistamine at the first sign of the onset of allergy season rather than wait until the throws of allergy season have made spring miserable and unbearable for allergy-sufferers.

Factors like heat, humidity, rainfall and wind can all affect the severity of allergies.

Here’s a few tips for allergy-sufferers to consider for the season:

  • When it’s hot or humid, mold growth increases
  • Pollen levels are at their zenith from dawn until mid-morning
  • Rain will wash pollen away, but it also increases the growth-rate after a soaking rainfall
  • Warm days and cool nights are the perfect conditions for tree, grass and ragweed pollens
  • Ragweed is the most common allergen in the fall (pollinates from August – November)
  • When there is no wind or breeze, allergens remain grounded

To cope with seasonal allergies best, monitor pollen and mold counts on local news stations, in weather reports and on cell phone apps. Antihistamines and HEPA filter masks can be helpful when doing yard work, hiking or enjoying the outdoors. After outdoor tasks are completed, change your clothes and shower to removed pollen and other allergens that may have been tracked indoors.

Avoiding triggers and managing symptoms is a great way to enjoy Springtime without worry. If symptoms become more severe, try visiting a local allergist who can prescribe other medications and offer an individualized approach to coping with allergies.