The Sweet Spring Challenge: Seasonal Allergies

 

How long is the season in the Northeast?
The Northeast is particularly afflicted by tree pollen. There is so much of it that the average person is familiar with the sight of cars covered with yellow pollen during late April and early May.

When an allergic person will suffer depends on which tree they're allergic to. Some of them will pollinate in mid-April, and others will not pollinate until later, toward the end of May approaching Memorial Day.

Some very unlucky people that are sensitive to all these different tree pollens may have a tree pollen season in the Northeast that goes for six weeks. Others, if they're only sensitive to one type of pollen, might have symptoms only for three weeks during that time.

Do all seasonal allergies--grass, ragweed, tree pollen--do they all affect people the same way? The symptoms one gets from tree pollen allergy are exactly the same as grass, ragweed, even symptoms from dust mite or cat allergy. You breathe the allergy substance in and an allergic reaction ensues, giving you the stuffy nose, sneezing, itchy eyes and so on.

What factors influence day-to-day allergic reactions?
The environment is absolutely critical. First the obvious, there is a lot less pollen inside than outside, assuming that it is tree pollen in the springtime. But it's also important to remember that pollen can be sucked in through filter systems, so that if you have an air conditioning unit, you should change the filters frequently. You should obviously try and keep the windows closed so that there's less pollen inside than outside.

 

The environment also has a bearing in a lot of other ways. For example, it is now clear that if you live in an area where the ozone level is high, you will be more sensitive to the allergy substance. For example, if you are normally sensitive to 100 units of grass pollen and then the ozone level is high, it may take only 10 units of grass pollen to induce the same level of symptoms.

Another factor that influences when somebody reacts is if they have any sort of a viral infection, like the common cold. The inflammation that results from a cold, when your nose is all stuffy and congested, causes tiny little cracks in the lining of the nose and sometimes in the chest, and that may allow a pollen to get through the lining and encounter the allergy system on the other side of the protective lining of the nose, which may trigger an allergy reaction, or it may rev up an allergy reaction that's already occurring.

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