Spring is finally here, and though some parts of the country are still shivering, it’s time to start preparing for allergy season. In fact, if you are one of the nearly 25 million people in the United States who are plagued with seasonal allergies, you may already be sneezing, coughing, wiping your runny nose and rubbing your itchy, watery eyes.
If you’re like most people, you may have a big question mark over your head every time you see flower buds growing on trees and feel excess pressure build in your nose and throat. You might think to yourself, “What causes allergies, anyway?” Let’s find out.
What causes allergies?
Common allergy triggers vary from one season to season, but you may only have an adverse reaction to a few. Let’s take a look at the most common culprits, by season, and learn how you can flip the switch on your postnasal drip and eye itch:
Spring is truly a tree’s time to shine. As one of the biggest plants on the planet, they give us oxygen, stabilize the soil and provide us with materials for tools and shelter. But they are also responsible for most springtime seasonal allergies because they produce tiny pollen cells that are light and dry, which means they can be easily blown across long distances in the blustery wind. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology , there are 11 types of trees that may be triggering your allergy symptoms: birch, oak, western red cedar, sycamore, maple, elm, ash, cypress, walnut, hickory and poplar.
There’s nothing quite like the smell of fresh-cut grass, unless of course it immediately brings a tear to your eye and leaves you sneezing your way back inside. Ryegrass, timothy grass and certain weeds are the biggest culprits of summertime seasonal allergies. Each year, these plants and grasses, release tiny pollen grains to fertilize other plants of the same species and to give you a giant case of hay fever.
Fall might as well be renamed ragweed season for seasonal allergy sufferers. Ragweed is a type of weed that grows all across the United States and has even been known to pop up in cracks in concrete. The good news is ragweed only lives a few months; the bad news is a single plant can produce up to a billion pollen grains. So if you see any popping up in your neighborhood, it’s time to head indoors and plan for outdoor activities after 4 p.m., when pollen counts are generally lower.
Winter is a welcome sight for many people with seasonal allergies. But that also means more time spent indoors with allergens like mold, pet dander, dust mites or even cockroaches. The good news is that indoor allergens are much easier to remove. Here are a few tips for getting rid of common indoor allergens:
- Wash bedding in very hot water once a week
- Use allergen-proof covers on your pillows
- Replace carpets with hardwood, laminate or tile
- Replace upholstered furniture with alternative materials
- Remove all stuffed animals from your home
- Fix water leaks and repair any water damage to minimize mold
Tips for lowering your risk of allergic reactions
Now that you know what causes allergies, let’s talk about steps you can take to lower your risk of seasonal allergic reactions:
- Start taking allergy medicines before symptoms begin
- Check your local pollen count every day and limit your time outside when pollen is high
- Keep your windows and doors closed
- Wear sunglasses and a hat to stop pollen from sticking to your eyes and hair
- Shower and shampoo every night to minimize allergens while you sleep
- Avoid drying your clothes outside
- Change and wash your clothes after outdoor activities
- Remove your shoes before entering your home
- Keep your lawn short to minimize its ability to release pollen
- Wipe off your pets with a towel before letting them inside the house
- Vacuum floors once per week
If you have any symptoms that feel like a cold, but you’ve been under the weather for more than a week, you may have seasonal allergies. While most people begin experiencing allergies in their 20s and 30s, it’s possible to get them at any point in your lifetime. Visit Coastal Urgent Care of Ruston to get the relief you need from seasonal allergies. Get more information about the causes of seasonal allergies from Coastal Urgent Care of Ruston. Walk-ins are welcome Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Sat-Sun, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.