Spring signals the beginning of allergy season. It is the time of year when certain trees and flowers begin pollinating. This often occurs in May for Midwestern states, with a second peak in the fall. Seasonal allergies, or “hay fever,” are not usually dangerous but may disrupt a person’s daily activities.
These allergies are caused by airborne pollen from certain seasonal plants or mold spores. This pollen enters the body through the eyes, nose or throat and triggers an allergic reaction. In people sensitive to pollen and mold, the body releases chemicals called histamines, which result in inflammation, irritation and discomfort. Symptoms of this reaction include sneezing, itchy throat, headache, swollen sinuses, runny nose, impaired sense of taste or smell, sleep disturbances, and itchy, watery eyes.
“More than half of seasonal allergy sufferers have family members with a history of allergies.”
Risk factors for seasonal allergies are related to heredity. More than half of seasonal allergy sufferers have family members with a history of allergies. Seasonal allergies affect men and women across all ethnicities. Allergies normally present before age 20.
There are ways to lessen or avoid allergic triggers. Stay indoors during peak pollen count hours (5:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.) if possible. If you are in your car, keep the windows rolled up and run the air-conditioning. Sunglasses can help keep pollen out of your eyes. Pay attention to the radio or television news for the day’s pollen count. If it is high, put off any outdoor activities or bring your allergy medications with you. You can also get monthly allergy shots. Your doctor can tell you if these would help you.