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How to Beat Your Spring Allergies


WRITTEN BY: UPMC
Saturday, May 7th, 2016

You take the good with the bad: The beauty of spring also brings seasonal allergies, sometimes called hay fever or allergic rhinitis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 19.1 million adults and 6.1 million children will struggle with itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, and other symptoms as snow melts and plants begin to grow again.

What Causes Seasonal Allergies?

Spring is well-known for its blooms and blossoms. And those same blooms and blossoms produce pollen.

Pollen is released from trees, flowers, weeds, and bushes. All kinds of plant life release pollen into the air, and these small particles can travel miles from their original plant.

For many people, breathing in pollen, made airborne by the wind, doesn’t bother them at all. For allergy sufferers, pollen is recognized by the body as a foreign invader, and the body mounts an immune response to eliminate it. It’s this immune response that causes the classic symptoms of allergies: sneezing, watery and itchy eyes, and stuffy, runny nose. Some patients will also have asthma symptoms, like cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

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Learn how you can help minimize your spring allergy symptoms.

Managing Your Spring Allergies

For allergy sufferers, a windy day is their worst enemy. The wind can pick up pollen, spreading it great distances and filling the air with allergens.

A rainy day, however, has the opposite effect and can effectively scrub the air of pollen, allowing people with allergies to breathe freely. If possible, people with allergies may want to stay indoors during high-pollen, windy days.

All pollens do not occur at the same time. Tree pollens start first, followed by the grass pollens in May, and then finally the weed pollens (ragweed is the most common) in the fall.

You can see an allergist to help determine which plant pollen is causing your spring allergies. The allergist will administer a test in which an allergen is pricked into your skin. Many species of pollen will be tested at once, and the pollen that produces an allergic response is the culprit. Some patients may need a breathing test to rule out asthma.

Knowing what you’re allergic to can help you choose which trees and grasses to plant around your home, although even these measures may not fully protect you from allergy symptoms.

Treatment for Spring Allergies

Many over-the-counter medications are available to treat your allergy symptoms. Antihistamine pills, steroid and decongestant nasal sprays, and even eye drops are your first line treatment options.

Decongestant nasal sprays should not be taken more than three days in row because they can make your nasal symptoms worse. Also, common antihistamines can make you very sleepy.

If over-the-counter medications are ineffective, you can consult with your health care provider about the next level of treatment: prescription-strength medication, allergy shots, and recently developed immunotherapy tablets.

Learn more about allergy treatment by visiting the website for UPMC Pulmonary and Respiratory Services. Schedule an appointment online today with UPMC.

Fortunately, spring will turn to summer, and the world will be breathable again for allergy sufferers. With the help of your health care provider, you can make it through the allergen-filled days of spring, comfortable and breathing easy.

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UPMC

A $14 billion world-renowned health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. UPMC provides nearly $900 million a year in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates 65,000 employees, more than 25 hospitals, 600 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.2 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical and behavioral health services insurer in western Pennsylvania. Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC ranks No. 12 Read More