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Environmental Allergies

Season Allergic Rhinitis

Millions of people are affected during different times of the year by seasonal allergic rhinitis, often referred to as hay fever. Symptoms of this condition can include sneezing, stuffiness, a runny nose and itchiness in your nose, the roof of your mouth, throat, eyes or ears. These allergic symptoms are most commonly caused by pollen and mold spores in the air, which start an allergic reaction by your immune system.

Pollens are microscopic grains which are needed to fertilize many kinds of plants. Typically, pollen from colorful flowering plants, such as roses are not responsible for allergy symptoms as the transport of these pollens is carried out by insects. However, many plants which do have flowers produce light powdery pollen that is carried by the wind. It is these airborne pollens that cause allergy symptoms.

Plants have different pollination patterns. Trees tend to pollinate in the spring while those who suffer from grass pollen allergy tend to get their symptoms in the late spring and early summer. During the late summer and early fall, weed pollens are responsible for many allergy symptoms. The weather can greatly affect the amount of pollen in the air at any time.

Molds are tiny fungi related to mushrooms. Molds can be almost anywhere, including soil, plants and rotting wood, including yard mulch. Their spores float in the air, much like pollen. Outdoor mold spores begin to increase as temperatures rise in the spring. In the Midwest, mold spores tend to peak in the September-October time frame.

What can you do?

  1. Watch the weather. You can follow pollen and mold counts through the link provided on our Facebook page to www.aaaai.org/nab. Also, hay fever symptoms are often less of an issue on rainy, cloudy or windless days because pollen does not move around during these conditions. However, intermittent thunderstorms have been associated with allergy and asthma flares. As they may “stir up” the pollen. Pollen tends to travel more with the hot, dry and windy weather, which can increase your allergy symptoms.
  2. Keep your windows closed at night and if possible, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools and dries the air.
  3. Try to stay indoors when the pollen or mold counts are high. If your symptoms are severe, wear a pollen mask if long periods of exposure are unavoidable. When you return indoors, take a shower, shampoo your hair and change clothes.
  4. Avoid being responsible for mowing lawns or raking leaves. This stirs up pollen and molds. Also, avoid hanging sheets or clothes outside to dry.
  5. When traveling by car, keep your windows closed.
  6. Take any medications as prescribed. If you know when your allergies tend to flare every year, numerous studies have shown that allergy medications are much more effective when started before the onset of your pollen season. The earlier in the course of your allergy symptoms that you intervene, the better your response is likely to be.
  7. If your seasonal symptoms are making you miserable, a board certified allergist / immunologist, often referred to as an allergist, can help. In addition to avoidance measures and when needed, allergy medications, you may be a candidate for allergy shots. These shots help your immune system become more resistant to the specific allergen and lessen your symptoms as well as the need for medications.

An allergist / immunologist is a pediatrician or internist with at least two additional years of specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies, asthma, immune deficiencies and other immunologic diseases.

By visiting Dr. Mjaanes at The Allergy and Asthma Center, you can expect an accurate diagnosis, a treatment plan that works and educational information to help you manage your disease and feel better. Call today to schedule your appointment! (920) 969-1768.