Seasonal Allergies are Here
More than 36 million Americans have seasonal allergy problems.
Seasonal (tree pollens and grass) and perennial (dust mites and animals) are the most common. In general, allergies tend to run in families. If both parents have allergies, there is a 60% chance a child will as well. In children, the typical age of onset is after five.
Seasonal allergy symptoms include a chronic clear runny nose, itchy nose and allergic shiners (raccoon eyes).
It is important to determine what you are allergic to, since it is then easier to minimize exposure. A simple allergy test is done with a derma-pick. It’s quick and hurts less than a finger prick.
The most common spring allergy trigger is pollen, tiny grains released into the air by trees, grasses and flowers. When these grains get into your nose, they can cause some people’s immune systems to switch into high gear. The immune system in certain people sees the pollen as a foreign substance and releases antibodies, which normally attack things like bacteria and viruses and removes them from the body. This leads to the release of chemicals called histamines, which cause the runny nose, itch eyes and other bothersome symptoms of allergies.
On Cape Cod there is a lot of wind, which stirs up the pollen, dust and mold, creating a fertile atmosphere for allergies. Getting proper treatment can help lessen allergy problems. An allergist or primary care physician can recommend a variety of medications, some over the counter and some requiring a prescription.
A longer term solution is immunotherapy, or allergy shots. Tiny amounts of the allergens are injected into the body over time, provoking an antibody response. Other steps to minimize allergy discomfort in children and adults include keeping the windows closed in summer between 6 and 10 a.m., driving with the windows up in the car and using impervious mattress covers.
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