Beware of Ragweed
Most allergies result from a hypersensitivity to dust and mold, animals, food or pollen. Allergies that last throughout the year usually result from dust or mold while animal or food allergies go away if the recipient is not exposed to the animal or substance. Pollen allergies, on the other hand, usually occur at the same time each year, and can be caused by the pollen in grass, ragweed or from the leaves of trees. Most of the pollen that is produced, though (approximately three-quarters), comes from the ragweed plant. In addition, allergies from pollen occur when the pollen count is the greatest, or during the spring, in the first part of summer, or in the early fall.
Variances in Pollen
The brightly-hued flowers pollinated by bees generally are not as threatening to seasonal allergy suffers as those plants that bees bypass. That’s because these insect-friendly plants manufacture a pollen that is heavier in weight, and therefore cannot become as easily airborne as the lightweight pollen that is manufactured by plants pollinated by the wind.
Symptoms of Pollen Allergies
If you are allergic to pollen, you will acquire the symptoms of hay fever, otherwise known medically as seasonal allergic rhinitis. Such symptoms resemble a cold and are comprised of:
Stuffy, itchy, runny nose; Itchy, watery eyes; Sore throat; Sleeplessness; Breathing difficulties; Headache; and Lethargy.
Some sufferers also get dark circles underneath their eyes. Symptoms can lead to asthma or chronic sinusitis if they persist and nothing is done to alleviate the problem.
The Role of Antihistamines and Decongestants in the Treatment of Pollen Allergies
An allergic reaction results when there is sensitivity to an allergen, such as pollen or dust. This kind of response, in turn, causes an excess of histamines to be released into the body. These extra histamines, then, are the offenders that cause the runny nose or watery eyes that are associated with pollen. Therefore, an antihistamine, in effect, is used to block or inhibit these receptors so symptoms are reduced. The remedy is often used in combination with a decongestant, which is indicated for use in clearing out the nasal passages and reducing the related swelling.
Decongestant Side Effects
However, be careful when taking a nasal decongestant as it can produce such side effects as:
Hypertension; Inability to sleep; Anxiety; and Dizziness.
Talk to your Healthcare Professional
To avert any side effects then, you should talk to your healthcare professional first before taking any medication as certain medicines used to treat allergies can interfere with any prescriptions you may now be taking, or may not be the best choice for your particular situation.
Avoid or Cut Down on Outdoor Activities
In general, if you suffer from an allergy from pollen, it’s best to avoid or cut down on activities outside, especially on those days when the pollen count is high. If you must do any kind of work or activity outdoors, make sure you take an antihistamine, if advised by your doctor, and wear a mask before you begin. Remember, pollen counts are the highest in the early part of the day and lowest after it rains. Hot, windy days are the worst kinds of days to be outside if you have an allergy to pollen.
Keep the Windows Shut
Also, keep the windows closed in your house as well. Make sure the windows in your bedroom are shut at night too. If you have a dog or cat, wash and groom him frequently if he spends time indoors with you. Pets can transport pollen from outside into the home.
HEPA Vacuums and Air Filters
Minimize the amount of pollen that makes it way into your house by using “High-efficiency Particulate Air” (HEPA) vacuum cleaners and HEPA air filters. Both kinds of items will keep your indoor air and carpeting contaminant-free.
Reduce the Pollen Count: Take the Necessary Measures
Pollen can cause a good deal of misery. Nevertheless, by taking the necessary precautions, you can do a lot toward minimizing symptoms and living more comfortably.