We all anticipate the coming of spring. After a long, cold winter full of gray skies, the budding trees and blossoming flowers are more than a welcome sight. The less than exciting part of spring is what comes along with that blooming flora: allergies. Depending on where you live, allergies can be mild or extremely difficult to cope with. Take into account that everyone wants to be outdoors as the weather warms up, and allergies become even more challenging.
What Causes Allergies?
Pollen is the primary culprit for allergies in the spring. As plants begin to grow, they release pollen, a fine powdery substance, to transfer genetic material to other plants (cross-pollination). We inhale this fine powder as it travels through the air. When it enters our bodies, our immune system responds to this foreign invader as something that does not belong and needs to be neutralized. Trees, grasses, and ragweed are some of the most common spring allergens. Other culprits of allergies are mold and dust. People react differently to various substances; one allergen may bother one person tremendously and not affect another person at all.
Immune System Reaction
The immune system's job is to protect the body from a variety of microorganisms that don't belong. Certain bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other substances are unwelcome, and the immune system works to keep those organisms at bay. During allergy season, we inhale a multitude of things that our bodies do not like, hence why we have symptoms and allergic reactions.
When pollen and other allergens enter the body, the immune system sees it as a threat to the body's health and releases antibodies to attack the particular allergen. Histamines are released into the blood and trigger itchy eyes, runny nose (or congestion), rash, or trouble breathing. Each person reacts differently, and symptoms can vary wildly from person to person.
How Weather Impacts Your Allergies
The wind is one of the biggest conspirators with spreading spring allergens. Spring winds are common in many parts of the country, bringing dust, pollen, and other microorganisms to offend our immune systems. Staying indoors, keeping the windows closed, and employing a HEPA filter or other indoor filtration system can help prevent allergy symptoms.
Humidity and rain can be helpful for people who are affected by pollen, as the moisture can keep pollen from blowing around. However, humidity helps allergens like mold and dust mites thrive, which can cause symptoms in some people. Unfortunately, mold and dust mites can live both indoors and outdoors.
Heat. While the spring days aren't hot like summer yet, the warmer temperatures can trigger allergies and asthma. As with wind, staying indoors and using filtration devices to purify the air can help alleviate symptoms.
How to Survive Allergy Season
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, some over-the-counter medications can help alleviate your suffering. If you don't usually have allergies, consider talking with your healthcare provider to make sure what you are experiencing is allergies so you can treat it appropriately. Try to keep the windows closed, use a HEPA filter, and wear a mask when you are outdoors to keep allergens from entering your body.
If you are outdoors, especially on a windy day, change your clothes when you come indoors to avoid bringing pollen and other allergens into your home. Take off your shoes outside and even take a shower to remove any pollen or other substances from your hair and body.
Heritage Health provides long and short-term skilled nursing care to the senior population throughout Illinois. If your loved one suffers from seasonal allergies, please speak with the nursing staff to determine the best plan of action to keep them feeling well throughout the season. Visit our website for a full list of locations and services.