What causes fall and winter allergies
Dr. Sarita Patil, an allergist with Massachusetts General Hospital’s Allergy Associates in Boston, talked to Live Science about strategies for outdoor lovers with seasonal allergies.
Patil suggested figuring out exactly what type of pollen you’re allergic to, and then avoiding planning outdoor activities during peak pollinating times in the months when those plants are in bloom. Numerous grasses, for example, typically pollinate in tardy spring and early summer and release most of their spores in the afternoon and early evening.
Her other strategies: Be capable to identify the pollen perpetrator by sight; monitor pollen counts before scheduling outdoor time; go exterior at a time of day when the plants that make you go achoo are not pollinating; and wear protective gear love sunglasses, among other tips.
[7 Strategies for Outdoor Lovers with Seasonal Allergies]
Allergy sufferers may also select to combat symptoms with medication designed to shut below or trick the immune sensitivity in the body. Whether over-the-counter or prescription, most allergy pills work by releasing chemicals into the body that bind naturally to histamine — the protein that reacts to the allergen and causes an immune response — negating the protein’s effect.
Other allergy remedies attack the symptoms at the source. Nasal sprays contain athletic ingredients that decongest by soothing irritated blood vessels in the nose, while eye drops both moisturize and reduce inflammation.
Doctors may also prescribe allergy shots, Josephson said.
For kids, allergy medications are tricky. A 2017 nationally representative poll of parents with kids between ages 6 and 12 found that 21% of parents said they had trouble figuring out the correct dose of allergy meds for their child; 15% of parents gave a kid an adult form of the allergy medicine, and 33% of these parents also gave their kid the adult dose of that medicine.
Doctors may also recommend allergy shots, a neti pot that can rinse the sinuses, or a Grossan Hydropulse — an irrigating system that cleans the nose of pollens, infection and environmental irritants, Josephson said.
Alternative and holistic options, along with acupuncture, may also assist people with hay fever, Josephson said.
People can also avoid pollen by keeping their windows closed in the spring, and by using air purifiers and air conditioners at home.
Probiotics may also be helpful in stopping those itchy eyes and runny noses. A 2015 review published in the journal International Forum of Allergy and Rhinology found that people who suffer from hay fever may benefit from using probiotics, or «good bacteria,» thought to promote a healthy gut. Although the jury is still out on whether probiotics are an effective treatment for seasonal allergies, the researchers noted that these gut bacteria could hold the body’s immune system from flaring up in response to allergens — something that could reduce allergy symptoms.
[5 Myths About Probiotics]
This article was updated on April 30, 2019, by Live Science Contributor Rachel Ross.
Variety of Pollens throughout Allergy Seasons
For numerous allergy sufferers, pollen can be a vicious expression reminiscent of numerous sneezy, unhealthy days and nights. How can fine powder released from flowering plants affect our senses so greatly?
To explain…pollen is a plant’s only form of reproduction and it’s produced in mass quantities. It’s carried in the air and can land in a person’s eyes, nose, lungs and on skin.
For people with allergies, pollen is an allergen that causes an allergic reaction.
Their immune system treats the pollen as an invader and responds by mobilizing to attack by producing large amounts of antibody. This allergic reaction can cause the following symptoms: itchy watery eyes, runny nose, itchy throat, hives, fatigue, and irritability.
When is Pollen Season?
Pollens spread by the wind. Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds are the main cause of allergies. Spring is not the only allergy season, numerous plants pollinate year circular. Your location will determine the time and duration of your pollen season. Pollen counts will vary from day to day as well as hour to hour.
Different Pollens for Each Pollen Season
In springtime, pollen from the trees begins its release between January and April, depending on the climate and location.
These trees include elm, pine, birch, ash, hickory, poplar, and cypress to name a few.
Summertime is when grass pollen reigns supreme: pollen from northern grass in colder climates, such as timothy, rye, and blue; and southern grass pollens in the warmer climates, such as Bermuda Grass.
In the drop, typically weed pollen takes control. These weeds include ragweed, nettle, mugwort, fat hen and sorrel.
Track Pollen Levels in Your Area
If you desire to know the allergy levels for your location, Pollen.com provides you with the tools to track pollen in your hometown and across the nation.
Asthma and Allergy
Are Seasonal Allergies and Asthma Related?
Allergy Tests By Plant Species
Allergy testing is widely available. Research what species you're allergic to.
What in the World Is a Pollen Allergy?
(ARA) As most allergy sufferers will tell you, allergy symptoms can always be bothersome, turning any time of year into sneezing season. A runny nose, itchy eyes and scratchy throat can arise as the days get shorter and the leaves start to change.
The drop can be especially hard for people who are sensitive to mold and ragweed pollen.But these seasonal elements aren t the only triggers that can make symptoms worse this time of year.
There are also a few lesser known triggers.Here are four things you might not know about drop allergies, courtesy of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology:
* Hay Fever? — Hay fever, a term from a bygone era, actually has nothing to do with hay. Instead, it s a general term used to describe the symptoms of tardy summer allergies. Ragweed is a common cause of hay fever, which is also known as allergic rhinitis. The plant generally begins to pollenate in mid-August and may continue to be a problem until a hard freeze, depending on where you live.
See an allergist for prescription medications to control symptoms or to see if allergy shots may be your best option.
* Lingering Warm Weather While most people enjoy Indian summer, unseasonably warm temperatures can make rhinitis symptoms final longer. Mold spores can also be released when humidity is high, or the weather is dry and windy.
Be certain to start taking medications before your symptoms start. Track your allergy symptoms with MyNasalAllergyJournal.org and visit with your allergist to discover relief.
* Pesky Leaves — Some folks might discover it hard to hold up with raking leaves throughout the autumn. But for allergy sufferers, raking presents its own problem. It can stir agitating pollen and mold into the air, causing allergy and asthma symptoms. Those with allergies should wear an NIOSH rated N95mask when raking leaves, mowing the lawn and gardening.
* School Allergens — It s not only seasonal pollen and mold that triggers allergies this time of year. Kids are often exposed to classroom irritants and allergy triggers.These can include chalk dust and classroom pets. Students with food allergies may also be exposed to allergens in the lunch room.Kids with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) may experience attacks during recess or gym class. Assist your kid understand what can trigger their allergies and asthma, and how they can avoid symptoms. Be certain to notify teachers and the school nurse of any emergency medications, such as quick relief inhalers and epinephrine.
No matter the season, it s significant for those who ponder they may be suffering from allergies or asthma to see a board-certified allergist. An allergist can assist you develop a treatment plan, which caninclude both medication and avoidance techniques.
Having your allergies properly identified and treated will assist you and your family enjoy the season. To discover an allergist and study more about allergies and asthma, visit www.AllergyandAsthmaRelief.org.
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL (November 26, 2018) — When temperatures get under freezing, people with seasonal allergies to grass, tree and weed pollens get well-deserved relief from their symptoms.
But if you’re still sneezing and blowing your nose when winter descends, you might own indoor allergies.
The problem for numerous allergy sufferers is figuring out what, exactly, is causing their symptoms. “Most allergy sufferers develop similar symptoms no matter what allergen they’re reacting to,” says allergist Todd Mahr, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
“When you own a stuffy or runny nose, itchy, watery eyes or sneezing and coughing you know you’re probably allergic to something. And if it’s serious enough to immediate a journey to the doctor for relief, see an allergist.”
Here are some common causes of winter, indoor allergies and tips from ACAAI on what you can do about them:
Dust mite allergy: Dust mites are one of the most common indoor allergens and a year-round annoyance. Those allergic to dust mites suffer most in their own homes. Often, you’ll notice your symptoms immediately after vacuuming, sweeping or dusting, when you’ve stirred up dust.
Molds, pollen, pet hair, fur or feathers can also contribute to a dust allergy.
You can lessen or avoid your symptoms by removing items that cause dust allergies.
Select wood floors instead of carpet, clean your home with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter, use mite-proof cases on your mattresses and pillows and wash your linens regularly in boiling water. Consider installing a high-efficiency disposable filter in your HVAC system. The filter should own a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating of 11 to 13 — the higher the MERV rating the better.
Mold allergy: Molds live inside and exterior your home. They thrive in moist places love bathrooms and kitchens, and unfortunately, numerous molds aren’t visible to the naked eye. As the spores become airborne, they can cause allergic reactions and worsen asthma symptoms.
Wear a mask when doing yard work, and once inside, take a shower and rinse your nose with a saline solution to remove mold spores.
In the kitchen, clean up any spills or leaks quickly to prevent mold from growing. Use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture in areas love bathrooms and basements. Clean your trash cans and fridge drawers. For serious mold problems, call a professional.
Pet allergy: It’s a heartbreaking situation for pet lovers if they own allergy symptoms after being with their pets. Allergy symptoms can be constant because exposure can happen anywhere — in pet-friendly workplaces, restaurants and stores, at school, in daycare, anywhere a pet owner has been.
Avoidance is the best way to manage a pet allergy, but you don’t own to part with your furry family members.
Hold your pet out of your bedroom, wash your hands with soap and water after petting or playing with your pet, vacuum with a HEPA vacuum and bath your pet once a week.
Once you know the cause of your symptoms, you can take control of your allergies and asthma and start enjoying life again. To discover an allergist in your area, use the Allergist Locator tool on the ACAAI website.
The most common allergen is pollen, a powder released by trees, grasses and weeds that fertilize the seeds of neighboring plants. As plants rely on the wind to do the work for them, the pollination season sees billions of microscopic particles fill the air, and some of them finish up in people’s noses and mouths.
Spring bloomers include ash, birch, cedar, elm and maple trees, plus numerous species of grass.
Weeds pollinate in the tardy summer and drop, with ragweed being the most volatile.
The pollen that sits on brightly colored flowers is rarely responsible for hay fever because it is heavier and falls to the ground rather than becoming airborne. Bees and other insects carry flower pollen from one flower to the next without ever bothering human noses.
Mold allergies are diverse. Mold is a spore that grows on rotting logs, dead leaves and grasses. While dry-weather mold species exist, numerous types of mold thrive in moist, rainy conditions, and release their spores overnight. During both the spring and drop allergy seasons, pollen is released mainly in the morning hours and travels best on dry, warm and breezy days.
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis may at first feel love those of a freezing.
But unlike a freezing that may incubate before causing discomfort, symptoms of allergies generally appear almost as soon as a person encounters an allergen, such as pollen or mold.
Symptoms include itchy eyes, ears, nose or throat, sneezing, irritability, nasal congestion and hoarseness. People may also experience cough, postnasal drip, sinus pressure or headaches, decreased sense of smell, snoring, sleep apnea, fatigue and asthma, Josephson said. [Oral Allergy Syndrome: 6 Ways to Avoid an Itchy, Tingling Mouth]
Many of these symptoms are the immune system’s overreaction as it attempts to protect the vital and sensitive respiratory system from exterior invaders.
The antibodies produced by the body hold the foreign invaders out, but also cause the symptoms characteristic of allergic responses.
People can develop hay fever at any age, but most people are diagnosed with the disorder in childhood or early adulthood, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms typically become less severe as people age.
Often, children may first experience food allergies and eczema, or itchy skin, before developing hay fever, Josephson said. «This then worsens over the years, and patients then develop allergies to indoor allergens love dust and animals, or seasonal rhinitis, love ragweed, grass pollen, molds and tree pollen.»
Hay fever can also lead to other medical conditions.
People who are allergic to weeds are more likely to get other allergies and develop asthma as they age, Josephson said. But those who get immunotherapy, such as allergy shots that assist people’s bodies get used to allergens, are less likely to develop asthma, he said.
How do scientists know how much pollen is in the air? They set a trap. The trap — generally a glass plate or rod coated with adhesive — is analyzed every few hours, and the number of particles collected is then averaged to reflect the particles that would pass through the area in any 24-hour period.
That measurement is converted to pollen per cubic meter. Mold counts work much the same way.
A pollen count is an imprecise measurement, scientists confess, and an arduous one — at the analysis stage, pollen grains are counted one by one under a microscope. It is also highly time-consuming to discern between types of pollen, so they are generally bundled into one variable. Given the imprecise nature of the measurement, entire daily pollen counts are often reported simply as low, moderate or high.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology provides up-to-date pollen counts for U.S.
Treatment Options for Winter Allergy Symptoms
To treat allergy symptoms, Jones cautions against older over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, which, he says, can do more harm than good.
«Some of these drugs own too numerous side effects,» he notes, «and people don’t really understand how to match their symptoms to the product. They just know they feel bad and desire to feel better.»
For example, some OTC allergy drugs contain decongestants, like pseudoephedrine, which can lift a user’s heart rate.
The athletic ingredient in the antihistamine Benadryl — diphenhydramine — causes some tissues to dry out and promotes urinary retention, Jones says. «So people with prostate problems, who may own trouble urinating, discover that that condition worsens when they take diphenhydramine.»
Jones says that better options are decongestants that contain loratadine (such as Claritin) and cetirizine (like Zyrtec), two drugs that moved from prescription to OTC status in recent years.
Prescription steroid nasal sprays (some of which are also now available over-the-counter) tend to be more effective than antihistamine tablets, adds Rank, though individual responses vary and the two types of drugs are often used in combination.
Talk to your doctor and your pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter medication, to discuss whether it’s appropriate for your symptoms and potential side effects.
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology notes that if you own a pet allergy, you might consider immunotherapy — allergy shots or tablets — that can potentially desensitize you to the allergen and provide lasting relief.
Itchy eyes, a congested nose, sneezing, wheezing and hives: these are symptoms of an allergic reaction caused when plants release pollen into the air, generally in the spring or drop. Numerous people use hay fever as a colloquial term for these seasonal allergies and the inflammation of the nose and airways.
But hay fever is a misnomer, said Dr.
Jordan Josephson, an ear, nose and throat doctor and sinus specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
«It is not an allergy to hay,» Josephson, author of the book «Sinus Relief Now» (Perigee Trade, 2006), told Live Science. «Rather, it is an allergy to weeds that pollinate.»
Doctors and researchers prefer the phrase allergic rhinitis to describe the condition. More than 50 million people experience some type of allergy each year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
In 2017, 8.1% of adults and 7.7% of children reported own allergic rhinitis symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Worldwide, between 10 and 30% of people are affected by allergic rhinitis, Josephson said.
In 2019, spring arrived early in some parts of the country and later in others, according to the National Phenology Network (NPN). Spring brings blooming plants and, for some, lots of sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and runny noses.
According to NPN data, spring reared its head about two weeks early in areas of California, Nevada and numerous of the Southern and Southeastern states. Much of California, for example, is preparing for a brutal allergy season due to the large quantity of winter rain. On the other hand, spring ranged from about one to two weeks tardy in the Northwest, the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic U.S. [Watch a Massive ‘Pollen Cloud’ Explode from Late-Blooming Tree]
Tests & diagnosis
A physician will consider patient history and act out a thorough physical examination if a person reports having hay-fever-like symptoms.
If necessary, the physician will do an allergy test. According to the Mayo Clinic, people can get a skin-prick test, in which doctors prick the skin on a person’s arm or upper back with diverse substances to see if any cause an allergic reaction, such as a raised bump called a hive. [7 Strange Signs You’re Having an Allergic Reaction]
Blood tests for allergies are also available. This test rates the immune system’s response to a specific allergen by measuring the quantity of allergy-causing antibodies in the bloodstream, according to the Mayo Clinic.