Let’s face it: most of us deal with some allergy, whether it be all year round or just a seasonal occurrence. While we may be fully aware of how allergies affect our bodies, we may still be in the dark as to what allergies really are. In short, allergies happen when the body’s immune system overreacts to a non-harmful allergen such as dust or pollen. When the body overreacts to these substances, it produces antibodies (in this case, it is Immunoglobulin E that is produced most often as an antibody). As a result of this antibody production, you may experience a stuffy or runny nose, scratchy throat, cough, or red and itchy eyes.
Now that we understand how allergies happen, it may be useful to know what time of the year allergies are most likely to strike. Spring, summer, or fall may have the potential for producing symptoms; these seasons provide an abundance of allergens, including pollen from trees, grasses, ragweed, and mold. Typically, an individual will have the same allergy pattern year after year.
How do you determine which allergies you have? The only way to do this is to be examined by a doctor. A physician will ask about your allergy history and specific symptoms you experience as well as check your ears, nose, and throat. In rare cases, blood work is needed to determine precisely what is causing the problem.
What is the best treatment for allergy symptoms? One of the most common and well-heard medications is antihistamines. Why do they work so well? When the body produces those IgE antibodies (discussed previously), they combine with the allergen, which causes your body to produce histamine. Histamine itself increases blood flow to the area of the body the allergen is affecting. This, in turn, causes inflammation of the area as well as mucus production. This whole process is what causes the typical symptoms of allergies to manifest. Antihistamines work directly against histamine, which ultimately blocks the symptoms from occurring.
When is the allergy season? It depends on what allergen we are talking about. March through June is tree pollen season. June, July, and August are the worst for grass pollens. August through October is weed pollen time; mold also peaks during this time.
For those of us who do deal with allergies at least part of the year, we know that medication alone is not always enough to combat symptoms. So why not compile a list of things you can do to help decrease allergy symptoms? Here are some tips to consider when dealing with your allergy symptoms.
Although this may not be the solution you were looking for, it is one of the easiest ways to keep exposure to allergens down to a minimum. If the weather is dry and calls for lots of wind, it may be better for your health to stay indoors. Allergens are easily carried on wind currents, which is why symptoms flare on windy days. The best day for allergy sufferers to wander outside is right after rainfalls; the rain will cleanse the air of allergens.