Spring Allergy Season Basics

Asthma, Daily Health Solutions, Healthy Living, Respiratory Health
on November 24, 2011

As the wintry days melt away and buds of green dot the land, spring arrives. While many welcome the warmer weather and days of sunshine, millions of Americans do so warily with the knowledge that the change of season brings the discomfort of spring allergies.

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When does spring allergy season begin? Typically, the spring allergy season commences after the trees begin to release their pollen. This usually happens in April. In an article for CNN Health, Dr. Charles Feldman, an allergist with the Columbia University Department of Pediatrics states, “Things become very dormant with the cold weather.” If there’s an unseasonal cold snap, allergy season may be delayed. Likewise, if winter weather dissipates early, allergy season may begin earlier. It all depends on when the trees release their pollen. As spring moves into summer, grass pollens become another catalyst for seasonal allergy sufferers.

Maybe it’s a lingering winter cold. Colds and allergies do share a few similar symptoms, but there are ways to determine if you’re suffering from a cold or spring allergy. You won’t run a fever with allergies. The symptoms of colds and flu will diminish in about a week to 10 days, while spring allergies will last as long as you’re exposed to the allergens. Allergy symptoms typically include sneezes, congestion, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. Sometimes you may suffer a scratchy throat, but if your throat is red and sore, it’s more likely a cold.

Be proactive. When suffering from spring allergies, also known as hay fever and allergic rhinitis, being proactive can help minimize your symptoms. Be aware of your area’s pollen count. The pollen count is simply the measured number of pollen grains in a specific area at a specific time. Both the National Allergy Bureau (NAB) and the Weather Channel online have area-specific pollen count data available. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), the pollen count is at its highest in the early morning, about dawn, but in urban areas, it may peak from about 10 a.m. through 3 p.m.

Treatment options. If you think you may be suffering from seasonal spring allergies, consult your physician. There are over-the-counter treatments available, as well as prescription options ranging from decongestants to nasal steroid sprays. Severe allergies may trigger asthma attacks, so it’s important to discuss your symptoms with your doctor.

Keeping pollen at bay. Track pollen counts, and when levels are high, avoid prolonged outdoor activity. Always keep outerwear such as shoes and coats out of the bedroom, and wash hands when entering from outside. Sometimes washing your face when coming in from outdoors can help, as well. The spring breeze may feel wonderful wafting in through open window, but that breeze can carry pollen into your home, aggravating your allergy symptoms. Keep windows closed, including when driving in the car.