March 20th marked the first day of spring this year, and for many people that means warmer weather, green grass and blooming flowers. For some, however, the beginning of spring is not as cheerful an event. To these people, spring only has one meaning – allergies.
Roughly 20% of the American population suffers from some sort of allergy. Because spring is the time of year when everything begins to bloom and grow, it is also the time of year when airborne allergies like pollen become most prevalent. Keep reading to find out more about seasonal allergies and what you can do to avoid them.
Cause of Allergies
Have you ever wondered how allergies develop, or why you react to a particular allergen? The exact cause of allergies is unknown, but there are many factors that are thought to play a part in the development of allergies.
- Genetics. Certain allergies can be hereditary. If one or both of your parents are allergic to something, there’s a good chance you will develop that allergy as well. However, you may not always develop the same allergy as your parents. While allergies are typically genetic, the substance you are allergic to may vary from generation to generation.
- Age. Chances of allergy development can increase after repeated exposure to a particular substance that the body does not recognize. Therefore, experts believe that the likelihood of developing allergies increases later in life due to continuous exposure to an allergen.
- Immune Response. Scientists also believe that how your immune system responds to certain intruders plays a part in the development of allergies. If the immune system identifies a substance that has entered the body as a dangerous intruder, it will fight to eliminate the substance and develop a sensitivity to it.
- Your Environment. Where you live (or are) can also have an effect on allergic reactions. If a certain allergen has a high prevalence in a particular area, it is unlikely that people who live in that area will react to that substance. Because they are exposed to it often, the immune system recognizes it as a normal substance. However, if someone from a different area is exposed to that allergen, they may develop the allergy because their immune system does not recognize it.
Allergies can be treated with over-the-counter medicine or something prescribed by your doctor. Any of the following treatments are commonly taken for allergies:
- Nasal steroids
- Expectorants such as guaifenesin
In addition, some non-medical treatments may be done to help relieve allergies. Some types of acupuncture have been known to treat allergies, as well as some over-the-counter saline sprays. You may also consider getting an air filter for your house to make sure the air that is coming in is pure. It is also a good idea to avoid going outside or to places where your allergies may be triggered.
If you’re prone to allergies, you may want to take extra caution during the spring months to avoid coming into contact with allergens. Try one of these helpful tips for allergy-proofing your home.
- Close your windows and doors. In both your car and at home, open windows/doors invite airborne allergens in. Keep them closed to keep out potential allergy-causing substances.
- Don’t use fans. Not only do fans help spread allergens throughout a room, they are also a common breeding ground for some common allergens, such as dust mites. Avoid fan usage during allergy season as it may worsen allergies.
- Dry clothes inside. Drying clothes on a clothes line outside may attract substances to stick to clothing, causing allergies. Keep clothes allergen-free by drying them inside.
- Wear a hat/sunglasses. If you can’t avoid going outside for the duration of allergy season, try putting on a hat or sunglasses. This will help keep allergens out of your eyes and face to avoid irritation.
If you think you may have allergies, contact your doctor. There are tests that can be taken to find out what specifically you are allergic to and the best way to treat it. While most allergies do not have a permanent cure, they are highly treatable.