Seasonal Allergies

What Are Allergies?
Allergies are dubbed as an autoimmune response or reaction to substances that are generally not harmful. Believe it or not, allergies are quite common. It is said that our environment as well as our gene pool may play a pertinent role as it relates to whether or not we are susceptible to allergic reactions.

What Happens?
When our bodies come in contact with what are known as allergans, our immune system has a reaction, releasing a chemical known as histamines. The role of histamines are to combat the allergans. As a result of these histamines, our body then has a reaction sometimes throwing us into a whirlwind of symptoms.

The Histamine Reaction

The histamine reaction that I speak of may resemble but not be limited to the following response from our bodies:

1. Watery eyes
2. Runny nose
3. Itching of the nose, mouth, eyes
4. Swelling
5. Breathing Problems
6. Coughing
7. Wheezing
8. Vomiting

Pollen is perhaps the most well known of the allergans. Wind can carry pollen for hundreds of miles. Pollen can be inhaled and may trigger allergies that cause the symptoms previously noted. In addition they can trigger an allergic reaction that is so severe that some indiviudals experience difficulty breathing or other allergy-asthma based symptoms.

Be aware that pollen counts (trees, grass, ragweed) usually peak during the Spring months and again during the Fall months. It is important that if you are one of the hard-hit allergy sufferers that you take note of the peak season where you live. Some places in North America have pollen seasons that linger through the summer months.

During the Fall months, ragweed is said to be the biggest offender. Another culprit is mold because it can find its way to cool, damp, moist places like fallen leaves. Finally, dust mites are the indoor trigger for allergies during fall months. Dust mites can get in your nose and cause sneezing, wheezing and our favorite, a runny nose. Beware the first time you fire up your heater. You may need to do a little dusting immediately after you have run it or a while to prevent any symptoms from developing.

In some instances, antihistamine medications may be taken to alleviate allergy symptoms but in other cases, an allergy test may be warranted to determine which types of pollen you may have an allergy to that elicit the strongest type of reaction.

Allergy skin test
An allergy skin test is test usually performed using your forearm. The test identifies allergies to things such as dust, pet dander, tree pollen, mold spores, ragweed pollen and grass pollen. You may have a “prick” test, in which the allergans in their purest forms are placed on your arm via the lightest “prick” just beneath the skin’s surface. At approximately 10 minutes, the arm is viewed by a healthcare professional to determine if you had a reaction to the test. If the area “pricked” swells to more than 2 millimeters, then it is considered a positive reaction.

Asthma and Allergies
Believe it or not, allergies are horrible triggers for asthma episodes. Seasonal allergies can send a child or adult to their doctor. Many people think they have a cold, but are instead suffering from an allergic-asthma episode. What do these symptoms look like?

Asthma-Allergy symptoms may include but are not limited to the following:
1. Shortness of breath (may feel like a tightness in your chest or you may experience a lot of coughing)
2. Wheezing
3. Pain in Chest
4. Headache
5. Trouble sleeping
6. Coughing

Under treated or untreated asthma that develops as a result of allergies can lead to missed days from school or work and if severe enough lead to a stay in the hospital. If you experience any of these types of symptoms, you should seek medical advice and treatment.

Other Tips
1. Dust, clean and dust some more
2. Keep doors and windows closed when the pollen count is high
3. Change air filters
4. Try to avoid outdoor activities in the morning when the pollen count is high
5. Take medications (i.e. oral antihistamines, or decongestants) as prescribed or keep over the counter medications on hand for high pollen count days.

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