Allergies: Why you suffer and what can help

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Let the sniffling, sneezing, sinus pressure, itchy eyes, sore throats, and overall misery begin!

Now that April is in the books and we’re halfway through May, we are definitely in the midst of another allergy horrible season. Continuing the trend of 2010 and 2011, this year promises to be another record breaking allergy season and sufferers are wondering why, between trips to the tissue box, of course.

woman with allergy sneezing

It all has to do with the climate change. “The seasons are getting longer – they’re starting earlier and pollens are getting released earlier,” says Dr. Stanley Fineman, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). The tepid winter, combined with rain early in the season sets us up to reap plenty of sneeze-worthy crops. Factor the surplus of CO2 emissions, another contributor to climate change, and we have a recipe to make millions suffer for at least 3 months out of the year.

Recently, a pollen count of over 9,000 particles per cubic meter was registered in Atlanta, which beats the previous record of just over 6k (by the way, anything over 1,500 is considered ‘extremely high’ according to the ACAAI).

So what can be done?

Treat BEFORE you start to suffer

Sneezing is your body’s official ‘attack’ on against the allergen and a good sign that your body has already been triggered into an inflammation response. While your body IS working on the issue, the problem is that the chemicals that your body sends to the area makes you infinitely more sensitive to the allergen than you were in the first place. Meaning, as the season wears on, it takes much less pollen to send you sniffling to the tissues. To prevent this hyper-reactive response, called priming, you should treat your allergies before the first symptom occurs. Using anti-inflammatory medication, like corticosteroids, everyday throughout the season can really help to reduce the symptoms of those nasty allergens

Spend mornings indoors

Early mornings are peak times for pollen counts, so plan your sunny days accordingly. Do your outdoor activities in the late afternoon or early evening and try to change clothes and shower when coming in from outside. Pollen traces on clothing or your face can cause a flare up in even the best air-conditioned environments.

 Know your triggers and avoid ‘em

Sneezing in the spring doesn’t necessarily mean you’re suffering from common hay fever. It’s possible that you’re allergic to a type of mold or fungus which are also aggravated by climate change. Dr. Fineman recommends visiting an allergist and getting the ‘skin prick test’ to diagnose your allergy. Once you know your enemy, run! Keeping the doors and windows shut on warm windy days will really help if your allergic to pollen. However, staying inside on humid or wet days can set off mold/fungus allergies, which love the humidity. What should you do? Well, that’s why it’s a good idea to get tested.