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Allergies: It's the Season

Allergies: It's the Season

By Kevin Cleary

We all enjoy spring, but for those that suffer from allergies it may not be the awakening they wanted. The great outdoors provide us with plenty of plants that are coming to life. This includes trees, grass, and a whole host of other colorful and fragrant flowers. While these may be aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, to many it signals the start of allergy season. While not all allergies are dependent on nature, this season of rebirth can be the major cause for itchy eyes and runny noses everywhere.

Why Do I Have Allergies?

Unfortunately, cursing the allergens that trigger your discomfort will do you no good since the true culprit is actually our immune system. As webmd.com describes it, pollen or dander from your favorite aunt’s cat is mistaken by our immune system as a serious threat and attacks these allergens. These allergic symptoms are our body’s misguided assault on relatively innocuous stimuli. When your body detects these “foreign invaders,” it releases chemicals into your system such as histamine. One fact that is pointed out by webmd.com that is interesting is that there appears to be a threshold for triggering an allergic reaction. Sometimes exposure to a small amount of an allergen may not trigger an event, but once that tipping point is exceeded your immune system leaps into action to combat the intruder.

Allergy Symptoms

Allergies

While some people may be predisposed to allergies, there are times when symptoms may appear out of the blue. How can you tell the difference between an everyday sneeze and one that might be a response to an allergen? Symptoms of a reaction to an allergen can affect different parts of the body, such as the skin, respiratory system (airways, nasal, sinuses, etc.), or even the digestive system. Even though everybody is different, the mayoclinic.org identifies symptoms such as sneezing or a runny nose, tingling mouth or hives, swelling or itching as possible reactions to allergens. These symptoms should never be ignored, no matter how minor, since they can lead to bigger problems down the road.

Anaphylaxis

Most allergic reactions are minor in nature. They can lead to discomfort and overall negatively impact your day-to-day life. However, some allergies can lead to a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. This is a severe reaction that can lead to your body going into shock and can be caused by something as simple as a food allergy or a bee sting. There are several signs and symptoms of anaphylactic shock described by mayoclinic.org:

There are several signs and symptoms of anaphylactic shock described by mayoclinic.org:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • A rapid weak pulse
  • Nausea and vomiting

Immediate emergency medical help (911) is critical once anaphylaxis has been determined. If it is known that an allergen may bring about anaphylaxis, an epinephrine injector should be carried or be available at all times. These are usually available by prescription and you should consult your doctor about its uses. If, during an anaphylaxis moment, symptoms become better after using epinephrine you should still seek immediate medical assistance.

Can I Prevent or Minimize These Allergies?

Allergies

For those that unfortunately are sufferers of allergies the first step in controlling them is identifying which allergens affect you? Testing with an allergy doctor should be your first step in developing a plan to deal with your allergies. The most obvious precaution is to avoid any of these allergens, but sometimes that’s just not possible. If you’re allergic to pollen or grass it’s not feasible to live your life inside the house. In order to keep the air free of allergens in your home, you can try an air purifier such as the Austin Air HM400 HealthMate Air Purifier. It uses proven filter technology with a 360° intake to eliminate allergens as well as odors, gases, and other irritants. To protect the baby’s room, the Austin Air HM250 Babys Breath Air Purifier emits a soothing white noise that has been proven to help children sleep as well as removing submicron particles, noxious gases, and chemicals. One economical solution to air purification is the Holmes HEPA Tower Air Purifier . It can help remove up to 99% of airborne particles as small as 2 µm. These particles can include dust, pollen, mold spores, and pet dander. Another air purifier that uses an HEPA system is the Honeywell HEPA Clean Germ Fighting Air Purifier with Odor Reduction . Where this system differentiates itself from others is that it uses germ fighting ultraviolet technology to kill certain viruses and germs as well as fungi and mold spores. Honeywell also offers an air purifier that specializes in capturing pet dander allergens and airborne fur and hair. The Honeywell Pet CleanAir Tower Air Purifier includes special filters that will capture up to 95% of airborne contaminants 2 µm or larger. Besides locking the family dog or cat outside, this can be a great way to allow Fido to be part of the family. When vacuuming, it’s a good idea to use a vacuum that uses HEPA filtration. The Sunpentown Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner with HEPA offers strong suction (utilizes a 10 amp motor) with no messy bags to empty. Keeping these allergens away from you should help you survive allergy season better.

Achieving Allergy Relief

While there are prescription and OTC drugs, there are other methods of relieving your allergy misery. Many over-the-counter nasal sprays provide instant relief, but at a cost. Usually the congestion comes back even worse after the medication wears off. The use of a saline spray is a non-medicinal option. The Church & David Simply Saline Sterile Nasal Mist contains purified water and salt, no preservatives, and is sterile for every use. It helps clear congestion by removing dust and other allergens to allow for clearer breathing. Another natural way of dealing with congestion related allergies is to use the Mabis DMI Steam Inhaler . Its fast therapy (6-9 minutes) gives the user soothing steady vapor with adjustable steam. One way to help children who may suffer from allergies (or other respiratory problems) is the Mabis DMI HealthSmart Kids Margo Moo Steam Inhaler which is specifically designed for kids with a whimsical cow design. Many sufferers of hay fever or other allergens that irritate the nose may develop sore irritated nasal tissue. Repeated blowing of the nose may help with breathing, but it irritates the skin around the nasal openings. One way to treat this is to use a nasal moisturizer such as the US Pharmacal Conn-Ease Nasal Moisturizing Gel. Originally designed for those using nasal cannulas for oxygen therapy, it can be used for irritated nostrils since it has an aloe vera gel and is hypoallergenic. Allergies can be extremely bothersome, but there are plenty of options to sufferers to help prevent the misery of allergies and to help provide relief from their symptoms.

 

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