Isn't it a beautiful spring day?
Those words used to drive me insane. Beautiful spring days in Maryland mean warm sunshine and gentle breezes. But drifting in those spring breezes is pollen. So much pollen, mostly from trees, that the air becomes hazy, making life miserable for people with pollen allergies like my son Paul.
Two years ago, sunny spring days didn't mean riding bikes and playing ball for 5-year-old Paul. They meant recess in the school library, a box of tissues at his desk, and eyes nearly swollen shut by the end of the school day. Once home, he took off his pollen-covered clothes, put on clean clothes, and spent his afternoons inside a closed house with air conditioning running even if it was a balmy 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) outside.
Only rainy days were beautiful spring days to Paul.
But last spring wasn't as bad for him, and this spring -- after nearly two years of allergy shots--he may finally be able to enjoy sunny spring days outdoors.
One treatment for people with allergies is injections of small amounts of the substances they're allergic to. This is called immunotherapy. Over time as the dose is increased, the patient becomes hyposensitized (less allergic) to the allergens because the body, for reasons not yet fully understood, becomes more tolerant to the offending substances. The symptoms, including sneezing and watery eyes--and the need for medication--are reduced or disappear.
People of any age can develop allergies. Heredity and allergen exposure are important influences in whether allergies develop. Moving from one part of the country to another, especially if the climates, and therefore the native plants, are different, can influence the severity and seasonality of allergic symptoms.