As Spring starts to settle in, you could be one of millions suffering from seasonal allergies. Roughly 20% of the U.S. population suffers from allergic diseases, with the most common being allergic rhinitis.
Here are some of the most common allergies you could experience this season:
- Pollen Allergy – Each spring, summer, and fall, tiny pollen grains are released from trees, weeds, and grasses. These grains hitch rides on currents of air. Although the mission of pollen is to fertilize parts of other plants, many never reach their targets. Instead, pollen enters human noses and throats, triggering a type of seasonal allergic rhinitis called pollen allergy. Many people know this as hay fever.
Of all the things that can cause an allergy, pollen is one of the most common. Many of the foods, medicines, or animals that cause allergies can be avoided to a great extent. Even insects and household dust are escapable. But short of staying indoors, with the windows closed, when the pollen count is high — and even that may not help — there is no easy way to avoid airborne pollen.
- Mold Allergy – When inhaled, tiny fungal spores, or sometimes pieces of fungi, may cause allergic rhinitis. Because they are so small, mold spores also can reach the lungs.
In a small number of people, symptoms of mold allergy may be brought on or worsened by eating certain foods such as cheeses processed with fungi. Occasionally, mushrooms, dried fruits, and foods containing yeast, soy sauce, or vinegar will produce allergy symptoms.
- Dust Mite Allergy – Dust mite allergy is an allergy to a microscopic organism that lives in the dust found in all dwellings and workplaces. House dust, as well as some house furnishings, contains microscopic mites. Dust mites are perhaps the most common cause of perennial allergic rhinitis. House dust mite allergy usually produces symptoms similar to pollen allergy and also can produce symptoms of asthma.
House dust mites, which live in bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpets, thrive in summer and die in winter. In a warm, humid house, however, they continue to thrive even in the coldest months. The particles seen floating in a shaft of sunlight include dead dust mites and their waste products. These waste products, which are proteins, actually provoke the allergic reaction.
- Animal Allergy – Household pets are the most common source of allergic reactions to animals. Many people think that pet allergy is provoked by the fur of cats and dogs. Researchers have found, however, that the major allergens are proteins in the saliva. These proteins stick to the fur when the animal licks itself.Urine is also a source of allergy—causing proteins, as is the skin. When the substance carrying the proteins dries, the proteins can then float into the air. Cats may be more likely than dogs to cause allergic reactions because they lick themselves more, may be held more, and spend more time in the house, close to humans.
Allergies to animals can take 2 years or more to develop and may not decrease until 6 months or more after ending contact with the animal. Carpet and furniture are a reservoir for pet allergens, and the allergens can remain in them for 4 to 6 weeks. In addition, these allergens can stay in household air for months after the animal has been removed. Therefore, it is wise for people with an animal allergy to check with the landlord or previous owner to find out if furry pets lived on the premises.
So what can you do?
Follow these steps from Pollen.com to limit your exposure!
- Check WeatherBug’s Pollen forecast each day to monitor allergy counts and plan activities.
- Keep your windows closed in your home and car to avoid letting in pollen, especially when the local pollen count is high.
- Set your air conditioners to re-circulate in your home and vehicle, to avoid drawing in outside pollen-rich air.
- The pollen counts are the highest between 5am and 10am, so limiting your outside exposure during those times can be extremely helpful for diminishing your allergies.
- Limit exposure on mornings that are especially warm and dry; these will usually be the high pollen count days. Days that are dry and windy also have high pollen counts. The best time for outdoor activities is immediately following a heavy rainfall.
- Avoid line drying your clothes and bedding outdoors when your local pollen count is high.
- Wash your face and hands after you’ve been outside to remove pollen. Also, change and wash clothes if they’ve been exposed to pollen.
- Bathe and shampoo hair daily before going to bed to remove pollen from hair and skin in order to keep it off your bedding. Wash bedding in hot, soapy water once a week.
- Minimize contact with items that have come in contact with pollen, such as pets and people that have spent a large amount of time outdoors.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen, and in severe allergy cases, wear a face mask when daily pollen counts are extremely high.
- Visit your allergist or doctor to see if the allergy shot is for you. Be consistent with your allergy medications for best results.
Be Prepared. Know Before™.
The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team