Most people look forward to the warmer weather and sunny days that spring and summer brings. Unfortunately, those of us who suffer from allergies need to seek relief from the triggers brought on by the seasons of spring and summer. Each season has its own triggers. Let’s take a look at these triggers and how to manage them in a way that provides relief to allergy sufferers.
Seasonal allergic rhinitis is known most commonly as hay fever. Today, there are as many as 8% of North Americans who suffer from hay fever. This condition occurs when the immune system overreacts to an allergen, such as pollen. Pollens which are produced by wind-pollinated plants, such as grass, trees, and weeds are the most common of these.
Hay fever occurs when the immune system wrongly identifies the airborne substances that are commonly harmless as a threat. The immune system then responds to the allergen by releasing histamines along with other chemicals into the bloodstream. The chemicals it releases produce the resulting symptoms of the allergic reaction.
As previously mentioned, the common triggers of hay fever will vary from one season to the next.
Trees:In the spring, trees are most often responsible for many of the allergies during spring. The most common offender in North American is the birch tree. Many people with allergies find that they react to this tree. There are other allergenic trees found in North America such as cedar, horse chestnut, alder, poplar, and willow.
Grass:In the summer, many people with allergies experience reactions to a variety of grasses. These grasses include ryegrass and timothy-grass in addition to some weeds. Grasses are known to be the most common trigger for those who suffer from hay fever.
Now that we have identified some of the common triggers for allergies, let’s take a look at various treatment methods to ease the symptoms brought on by allergies.
Of course, the most effective treatment is avoidance. However, often complete avoidance is not only impractical but downright impossible. For those who must live or work in environments with allergic triggers, there is also medication. Medications include various over the counter decongestants and antihistamines. These include combinations of acetaminophen, diphenhydramine, and phenylephrine (Benadryl) as well as cetirizine (Zyrtec). Medications such as prescription medications which include steroid nasal sprays are also used.
For those who suffer from severe allergies, a doctor may sometimes recommend allergy shots. The allergy shot is a type of immunotherapy. This will often help to desensitize the immune system to offensive allergens. As always with medication there may be some undesirable side effects which include dizziness, drowsiness and sometimes confusion.
There are also alternative treatments available. Effectiveness may vary with each of these. The alternative treatments include; lactobacillus acidophilus (good bacteria found in yogurt), quercetin (a flavonoid found in fruits and vegetables), vitamin C (contains some antihistamine properties) and spirulina (a variety of blue-green algae).