Beautiful warm weather brings about a lot of issues for many individuals. While it's instinctive to spend time outdoors after being cooped up in the house all winter, but there are some downfalls to all the sunshine.
Spring and summer is the prime time for the blossoming of plants. From trees to grass, the sunlight triggers fertilization, and as a result, there is an increase in production of pollen. When it comes to allergies, pollen is one of the biggest perpetrators causing watery eyes, itching, and sometimes asthmatic problem. To help relieve you of your pain, we've addressed everything you need to know about pollen allergies.
What exactly is pollen?
Pollen is a powder that comes from the stamen of flowering plants. It exists as a plants method for fertilization, allowing it to reproduce. Any time your body produces an anti-inflammatory response to a foreign body in the system, it is considered an allergy. Those who suffer from allergic reactions caused by pollen are actually suffering from hay fever.
The trouble with pollen is its ability to travel great distances. Its fine texture makes it hard to see but easy to inhale through the mouth and nose. The time of year you have an outbreak is indicative of the type of plant causing problems. In the summer and fall, the biggest culprit is ragweed. For spring, there is both grass and tree pollen such as oak, birch, and hickory.
Pollen Allergy Symptoms
Hay fever mostly affects the sinus and respiratory tract. Many individuals find they are suffering from watery eyes, a runny nose, sore throat, coughing, and increased mucous. In extreme cases, hay fever can cause an asthmatic response as well. For residents of Tennessee, the hot and humid temperatures coupled with the geographical location of most cities sitting in a valley blankets us with pollen. Fortunately, most of the symptoms can be addressed with the use of an antihistamine. Aggravated asthma problems, such as wheezing and coughing subside with the use of an inhaler.
A pollen count refers to the number of grains landing in an area during specific times of the day. A spinning rod moves through the air at random intervals to take measurements. The quantity of pollen stuck to the device articulated in grams per cubic meter provide hay fever sufferers information as to what days their symptoms will be worse. The average individual should be fine with a count that is 50 or below, but those who are hypersensitive may struggle when it's 15-20. Anything over 1,000 is considered very high, and those who suffer from hay fever should take precaution.
Identify Which Pollen Causes Issues
Everyone's immune system reacts differently to certain species of plants. For an accurate reading, you'll want to visit your allergist for testing, but the most common issues lie within:
Trees - Tree pollen is the first to distribute in the springtime. If your symptoms arrive just after the winter months and the onset of warmer days, trees are your biggest offender. For Tennesseans, there is maple box elder, oak, and birch.
Grass - There are several thousand varieties of grass that contribute to pollen allergies. While there is an abundance of species to create problems, grass pollen is notoriously lower than the others.
Ragweed - As the summer heat starts to settle in, ragweed causes a lot of folks complications. Different variations of the plant are grown all over the United States including Tennessee.
Managing Your Hay Fever
There are a few things you can do to manage the effects of hay fever.
- Clean your home frequently. Pollen comes in through open doors and windows and easily hitches a ride indoors on clothing and shoes. Dusting and vacuuming will help keep it out of your home.
- Most pollination happens between 5 am to 9 am. If you participate in a run or morning walk with the dog, you'll need to pop an antihistamine.
- Wear a face mask when mowing the lawn. Wearing a medical mask or handkerchief around your face will block the pollen from coming in your nose and mouth.
- Ask your doctor about allergy shots. Antihistamines are great for relief but too many, and you risk drying up your passageways. Allergy shots can help immunize from different allergies.
To learn more about allergy testing or shots, contact OAT today to speak with one of our allergy specialists.