Prevention of Seasonal Allergies

As the name suggests, seasonal allergies are essentially allergies which are experienced in particular seasons. These allergies are mostly prevalent in the spring, summer and fall months but certain regions can have them in winter also. In the United States, the state of Texas have some of its worst allergy breakouts during winter every year.

Seasonal Allergies

Pollen is the most important seasonal allergen. The allergies are worst in the season when the trees pollinate. In case of Texas, the cedar trees pollinate during the winter. The trees oak, maple and elm pollinate in the spring. Pollen from grass also adds to the misery of people suffering from allergies. Grasses like Bermuda, timothy and orchard pollinate in spring. Different genres of plants choose different seasons for pollination. Hence, it is understood why some people may end up suffering from the seasonal type of allergies all through the year.

This type of allergy is known as Hay Fever. As of 2010, the number of adults diagnosed with hay fever in the past 12 months is 17.7 million. The number of children was 7.1 million. If both the parents suffered from allergies, then the risk of the individual to suffer from the same would be 66%. If just one parent suffered from the same, then the risk for the individual would be 60%.

Why do we experience allergies?

The answer to this question lies with our immune system. The immune system is the bodily defense against the pathogens, irritants and injuries inflicted on us. The immune system in some individuals may be hypersensitive. Whenever pollen or any other seasonal irritant enters the body through the airways or is ingested, the immune system starts thinking of it as a threat. The auto immune mechanism in the body causes it to produce Immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE). These antibodies react with the protein in the irritants and binds with mast cells found in the gut, skin and pharynx. The mast cells release a chemical histamine in the process. The increased histamine is responsible for the different symptoms experienced like hay fever and allergic rhinitis.

What are the symptoms of seasonal allergies?

  • Red, itchy and watery eyes with swollen eyelids.
  • Recurrent sneezing.
  • Inflammation in lips, mouth and overall face.
  • Itchy and scratchy throat, ears and nose.
  • Mucus secretions are runny and clear.
  • The symptoms exist for more than 7-10 days.

What are the most common allergens to affect seasonally?

Plant Pollens

  • Grass

    Rye grass, Timothy grass, Bermuda grass.

  • Weeds

    Nettle, Ragweed, Plantage, Sorrel, Chenopodium album, Artemisia vulgaris etc.

  • Trees

    Birch, Alder, Hazel, Poplar, Cedar, Hornbeam, Aesculus, Willow, Oak etc.

Mold Spores

Seasonal allergens can cross react with food allergy proteins. In that case, traces of the various pollens would be found in certain fruits and vegetables. For example, traces of the birch pollen could be found in fruits like apples, peaches, grapes, celery etc.

Prevention of Seasonal Allergies

It is very important to understand and implement the preventive strategies for such allergies. This is because seasonal type of allergies are the greatest trigger for asthma. The best way to treat allergies would be to avoid the allergens.

The different preventive methods are as follows:

  • Allergy season would traditionally be the beginning of spring and extends up to the summer. Go out of the house prepared. Use glasses to protect eyes and a protective filter mask to protect the airways.
  • Change clothes once you are back home. A lot of pollen may stick to your clothes and hair.
  • Keep doors and windows closed.
  • Install a HEPA enables air purifier.
  • Check for the pollen count of the area you live in. Try staying indoors between 10a.m. and 4 p.m. when the pollen count is at its peak.
  • Keep outdoor furniture and vehicles covered.
  • Vacuum clean the house regularly with a HEPA enabled vacuum cleaner. A lot of pollen may stick to the carpets.
  • Look for developing molds in your house especially in the dark and moist areas like those of the basement, attic, bathrooms etc.
  • Take medications on time. Taking antihistamines when anticipating an attack may help reduce the severity of the symptoms. Antihistamines are usually the first line of defense and counteract the effect of excess histamine in the body very efficiently.
  • Immunotherapy or allergy shots may be the best prevention against the discussed type of allergies. Small doses of the allergen itself is administered and the immunological tolerance is build up. This therapy prepares the body to resist and fight back the allergy triggering proteins in the environment.