Watch Out for Spring Allergies
The daytime is getting longer, and the weather is getting warmer. Spring is finally coming, and it is time for some outdoor activities. However, while enjoying your outings, keep in mind that spring doesn’t only bring upsides, but risks as well. To be more specific, be aware of spring allergies.
Spring allergies, also known as seasonal allergies or hay fever, are allergic reactions that occur during the spring months when trees, grasses, and weeds begin to release pollen into the air. It usually lasts from late February to early summer. The symptoms of spring allergies can be quite similar to those of a cold or the flu, but they are caused by an immune system response to the pollen rather than a virus. When a foreign substance enters or contacts the body, and is perceived as harmful, the immune system will react to these substances by producing antibodies that trigger the release of histamine and other chemicals, causing inflammation and allergy symptoms.
Common symptoms of spring allergies include:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
- Watery eyes
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Itchy skin rash
Apart from these common symptoms, people with existing respiratory problems should pay extra attention to the possible risks of spring allergies as respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema can be exacerbated by spring allergies. Symptoms of these conditions may include coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and chest tightness. Therefore, if you have respiratory diseases, special treatments for urgent conditions should be prepared in advance, which includes avoiding allergens, taking medication to control symptoms, using a nebulizer or inhaler when needed, and getting supplemental oxygen with oxygen concentrators to improve breathing quality and alleviate chest tightness.
As we have discussed, the major cause of spring allergies is pollen. But they are not the only ones. Some other substances can put you at risk as well. Common causes of spring allergies may include:
Pollen: Pollen that comes from trees such as oak, birch, and maple, as well as grasses like ryegrass and Timothy grass, are particularly allergenic.
Mold: Mold spores can be released into the air during the spring when the weather starts to warm up and humidity levels increase. Outdoor mold spores can be found in damp areas such as soil, decaying vegetation, and piles of leaves. Plants that couldn’t survive the cold winter can be perfect nutrients for mold to grow. Mold can also thrive indoors in damp places like kitchens, toilets, and basements.
Dust mites: Dust mites are microscopic insects that can be found in bedding, carpets, and furniture. They can be particularly problematic during the spring when homes are closed up and heating systems are still running.
Pet dander: Pets can shed dander, especially when they lose hair as the temperature gets higher in spring. Dander is made up of tiny flakes of skin, and can be a common spring allergen for people who are allergic to animal dander.
Insect stings: Bees, wasps, and many other insects become more active and start proliferation in the spring. They can cause allergic reactions if someone is stung. Moreover, allergic reactions caused by insect stings can be more severe than the common allergic symptom, which can include pain, swelling, and even organ failures in some cases.
Air pollution: Air pollution levels can be higher during the spring as a result of climate change and human activities, particularly in urban areas. Exposure to air pollution can exacerbate allergy symptoms.
When you have spring allergies, it can be helpful to figure out the cause of your symptoms so that your healthcare provider can develop a treatment plan accordingly.
To manage spring allergies, usually there are several steps you can take:
Stay indoors during peak pollen times. For indoor ventilation, use air conditioning instead of opening windows. Try to avoid outdoor activities that can expose you to pollen.
When you stay at home, it’s also important to watch out for allergy triggers like mold, pet dander, dust mites, and insects. A proper spring cleaning can help a lot. And it’s a good habit to change your sheets and bedding and clean your house regularly.
Antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays can help relieve symptoms. If your symptoms are severe, your healthcare provider may prescribe stronger medications.
If your allergies are severe and can not be well controlled with medication, your doctor may recommend immunotherapy, such as allergy shots or tablets. These treatments can help your body build up immunity to the allergen over time. After all, allergy is the reaction of your immune system.
Using a saline solution to rinse out your nasal passages can help relieve congestion and reduce symptoms.
While mild symptoms of spring allergies take place in the upper respiratory tract, severe symptoms can develop in the lungs and cause breathing problems. Besides, as we have noticed, people with existing pulmonary diseases like asthma and COPD can suffer from exacerbated symptoms. Oxygen therapy is a good choice to help with that condition by introducing supplemental oxygen. You can have better breathing quality and feel relieved from chest tightness or shortness of breath. All you need for oxygen therapy is an oxygen concentrator. With that, you can do the therapy any time without having to go anywhere. If you fear that spring allergies may come to you during an outing, you can bring a portable oxygen concentrator with you for emergencies.