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Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Courtesy of Russell R Van Hemert DC
Best Ways to Treat and Prevent Spring Allergies
Updated April 30, 2018
People who enjoy a reprieve from allergy symptoms in the cold winter months often dread the return of spring. With spring comes the increased output of pollen from trees, grass, and weeds and the specter of allergic rhinitis (hay fever).
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over eight percent American adults (20 million) and eight percent of children (six million) experience seasonal allergies.
Symptoms of spring allergies include:
The CDC reports that children between 12 and 17 are especially vulnerable. Moreover, seasonal allergies may increase the incidence or severity of respiratory symptoms in adults and children with asthma.
Common Spring Allergens
An allergen is any substance that elicits an abnormal immune response during which the body fights off a perceived threat that is otherwise harmless.
Pollen is one such substance released by trees and other plants during the spring. They are central to plant reproduction and easily inhaled as fine, powdery particles that readily drift in the air.
The trees most commonly associated with allergic rhinitis in the U.S. include:
In the later spring, grass pollens are the key culprit and may include:
By contrast, allergens like ragweed are more commonly seen in summer.
Mold spores are also a common cause of allergies starting in spring and continuing right through autumn. Outdoor molds include Alternaria, Cladosporium, and Hormodendrun.
Seasonal allergies are pretty self-evident and rarely need diagnostic testing. With that being said, if allergy symptoms are unrelenting despite treatment, you may want to have a doctor check for other causes or contributing factors. This is especially true if breathing problems are severe.
Severe sufferers may also need a referral to an allergist to identify the specific allergens wreaking havoc. By doing so, the doctor may be able to prescribe allergy shots to temper the immune response.
Medications are typically used to either alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergy or mitigate the body's response to airborne allergens. Among the options:
In addition to medications, people will often turn to traditional neti pots to help irrigate and open blocked nasal passages.
While there are few ways to entirely avoid allergens during allergy season, there are certain precautions you can take to minimize exposure:
Church, D.; Church, M.; and Scadding, G. "Allergic rhinitis: impact, diagnosis, treatment, and management." Pharm J. 2016; 8(8). DOI: 10.1211/CP.2016.20201509.
National Center for Health Statistics: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Allergies and Hay Fever." Atlanta, Georgia; updated March 30, 2017.
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