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Question: How can I get relief from my spring allergies?

Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone.  More than 35 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis, better known as hay fever.  While there is no cure for spring allergies, there are ways to relieve your suffering and get you outdoors again.

In spring and summer, pollen is released from trees, grass, flowers and plants and becomes airborne.  When it's inhaled through a person’s nose, the immune system fights back against this foreign invader.
The cause of spring allergies
During spring and summer, pollen is released from trees, grass, flowers and plants and becomes airborne for the purpose of fertilizing other plants.  When pollen is inhaled through a person’s nose, the immune system sends out an army of antibodies -- substances that normally identify and attack bacteria, virus and other illness-causing organisms -- to fight off this foreign invader. The antibodies attack the allergen, which leads to the release of histamines into the blood. Histamines are the chemicals that trigger inflammation in the sinuses, nose and eyes.

As a result, allergy symptoms may include:Allergy symptoms often include a runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, itchy eyes and nose, and coughing.

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy eyes and nose
  • Coughing
  • Dark under-eye circles

Allergens can also trigger asthma, a narrowing of the airways which makes breathing difficult and can cause coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

Tips for treating and preventing allergies
Fear not.  You can enjoy a warm, sunny day outside. From developing new habits to using medications, there are many ways to successfully combat allergies.

  • Check the local forecast. Plan outdoor activities for the middle of the day when the pollen count is usually at its lowest, and stay indoors in the mornings and evenings when pollen counts are generally the highest.
  • Change your clothes and take a shower after being outside. Washing your clothes and your hair will remove any pollen that may have collected on you.
  • Take cover. Wear a mask when mowing the lawn or gardening. Sunglasses can keep help pollen out of your eyes.
  • Keep your windows closed and the air conditioning on in your car and in your home to avoid letting pollen into your living spaces.
  • Consult with your physician about the use of over-the-counter medications like antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays or eye drops.  If these products don’t help, your physician may recommend a prescription medication or allergy shots.
  • See a specialist like those at Columbia St. Mary’s Sinus Center. Physicians at the Sinus Center provide an array of services including allergy management. For more information or to make an appointment, call (866) 377-4493.

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