Hey, I love a pine tree as much as the next person. But, when you see sheets of yellow pollen in the wind, it heralds the coming of allergy season. Also known as hell. Oh, and Claritin? Yeah, raising the BS flag on that one.
The past winter is priming the United States for a severe allergy season. It’s not all bad news. All that snow will make for absurd pollen counts, but it is expected to shorten the season.
“The classic maple, oak and birch that cause many of our spring allergy symptoms will be pollinating later than usual,” says Dr. Tanya Laidlaw, director of Translational Research in Allergy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “We’ll probably get a few days to a week or so of a shorter season.”
“The trees are really primed for a heavy pollen season so we expect that the pollen counts will be as high, if not higher than usual,” Laidlaw said. “The days of symptoms might actually be more severe.”
Seasonal allergies are fairly common, affecting 10-30% of adults in the United States annually. I’d love to meet the mythical 70% that is not horrified by the sight of everything covered in yellow. Expert
Luckily for us, there is still time to prepare for the spring allergy season. Avoidance or outdoor allergies is pretty much out the window. Who wants to sit inside after the ‘Day After Tomorrow’ winter we just had?
Know Your Allergies
The signs and symptoms are straightforward with seasonal allergies. Common symptoms include nasal congestion, cough, runny nose, itchy and/or watery eyes and stuffiness. These can lead to secondary symptoms including irritability, fatigue and trouble concentrating.
Knowing is half the battle in the fight against seasonal allergies. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. You may not be able to avoid the allergen, but at least the treatment can be targeted. Don’t just raid a CVS for allergy medication.
You won’t enjoy it, but if you know you have allergies, it’s time for an allergen test. This involves an allergist placing the different allergens on your skin (scratch test) to see what reacts. From there, it takes about 20 minutes per allergen to see the result.
If it’s tree pollen, it’s time to pick your battles. You can just avoid it like a peanut allergy, but you can take steps. Monitor pollen counts. If you know it’s going to be high that day, and you need to binge watch Netflix, do that.
If you have to go outside, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. At home? Keep the windows shut.
Another option is hoping like hell it rains. Nothing will make a pollen-allergy sufferer smile more than a heavy downpour.
Most allergy patients can be treated with over-the-counter drugs or prescriptions. These come in pill, eye drops, nasal sprays, and sublingual tablets. All contain antihistamine agents to treat your symptoms.
Your final line of defense are allergy shots. Doctors gradually build up the dose for your specific allergen, and then it’s once a month for 3-5 years to promote tolerance. If the other treatment options don’t help, the shots do offer relief.
The key to the spring and fall allergy season is to be informed. Multiple research hospitals and associations such as the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology and the American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology offer a wealth of information.
Allergy tests. If your allergy cannot be controlled with a run to a pharmacy, get tested. Know what you are allergic to, and then develop a treatment plan.
Limit pollen. Yeah, I live in rural Alabama so this is damn near impossible with the pine forests, but try to keep it out of the house. Pollen is sticky, so if you come in from outside, change your clothes, and even grab a quick shower.
Oh, and wash the clothes covered in pollen. What about you? Any tips avoid the plague that is pollen? Share this with your friends who are already sneezing like mad.