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Surviving Spring Allergies

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After a long winter, the arrival of spring is usually a welcome sight.  But, for the 40 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, the budding trees signal the beginning of misery!

Seasonal allergic rhinitis, formerly known as “hay fever,” is allergies triggered by pollens or molds that contain allergens, substances that initiate the allergic response.  Spring time in SW Montana means trees including oak, elm, cottonwood, willow, maple, birch, aspen, juniper, alder, and pine will release pollen.  A single tree can release millions of pollen grains each season.  The pollen grains are tiny, light and easily carried by the wind.  When these allergens are breathed into the nose or contact the eyes, they combine with the allergic antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE) on mast cells and this results in the release of chemical mediators including histamine.  Histamine and other mediators lead to symptoms such as sneezing, nasal itching, congestion and clear discharge as well as itchy, red and watery eyes.  Seasonal allergies can make you miserable with fatigue, impact your daily activities, lead to trouble with concentration, reduce work productivity and even result in self-image problems such as embarrassment.

People with allergic rhinitis are more likely to have acid reflux, migraines, sleep disturbances, sleep apnea, sinus infections, skin rashes and ear aches.  Allergies frequently precede the development of asthma!

Tips to help you lessen your exposure to pollens and airborne mold spores.

  • Use an air conditioner and a dehumidifier to clean and dry the indoor air
  • Use large waxy flowers to decorate your home as their pollen is large, sticky and not airborne.
  • Avoid outdoor exposures between 5 am to 10 am as this is when pollen counts are highest.
  • Avoid outdoor exposures on windy days, as more pollen is airborne
  • Keep the windows in your house and your car closed.
  • Avoid mowing and raking grass (if you are grass or mold allergic)
  • After spending time outdoors, remove shoes and change clothes so as to avoid bringing pollen inside
  • Shower after spending extended periods of time outdoors.  This will remove pollen from hair and skin.
  • Avoid using clotheslines to dry clothes or sheets outdoors.   They will collect mold and pollen.

At Family Allergy & Asthma Care of Montana, I’ll take a thorough history and conduct tests to determine exactly which pollens and molds are triggering your symptoms.  I will work with you to develop a management plan, which may involve medications, certain environmental control measures and allergy injections if appropriate.

Even though there is no cure, there is control!

This information is for educational purposes only and does not take the place of your physician’s advice.

 

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