Flowering trees in spring can boost your mood but may make your eyes water and produce sneezing. Pollen is the cause, and an allergy to pollen is extremely common.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), at least 19 million adults were diagnosed with hay fever in the past 12 months. However, hay fever is not the only allergy that affects people allergic to pollen. Unlike people with allergies who live in northern states, residents in the southeastern US with pollen allergies experience an earlier spring season and shorter winter – so have a longer duration in which to suffer from seasonal allergies!
The following provides a general overview of pollen-related allergies affecting people who live in south Mississippi, and how you can better cope if you are a person who has an allergic reaction to pollen.
Why Allergens Affect Your Body
The immune system produces histamine to protect us from outside irritants, but an over-production of histamine is the cause of the typical symptoms associated with allergies. For a person with a pollen allergy, the over-production of histamine usually causes such symptoms as:
- Watery and itchy eyes;
- Runny or stuffy nose;
In people with asthma, an allergy affecting the upper respiratory tract (such as hay fever) can also trigger an asthma attack.
Common Spring and Summer Allergens in Mississippi
Budding fruit trees are one cause of seasonal allergies affecting the respiratory tract (termed allergic rhinitis), and the leafy trees of summer and ragweed are two others. Basically, the pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds can all cause this type of allergic reaction.
For someone with a severe allergy and asthma, specialist physicians seek to determine the exact cause in order to choose the appropriate shots to prevent the allergic reaction from occurring again in the future. In the case of a seasonal allergy, this means figuring out exactly which tree or plant is triggering the allergic reaction.
An allergic reaction to new buds is often called rose fever to differentiate it from a seasonal allergy that persists into late spring and summer. Meanwhile, allergic rhinitis symptoms in early fall in the Southeast are often caused by the pollen of burning bush, cocklebur, pigweed, and lamb’s quarters ñ as well as ragweed growing on the sides of most highways!
Common Allergy Symptoms (and What to Do About Them)
The above-described respiratory tract symptoms may be mild or interfere with your daily activities. If your runny nose is persistent or you are frequently sneezing, you may benefit from an over-the-counter allergy medication. The problem is that antihistamine medications typically cause drowsiness as a side effect, so this may be problematic for you at work.
How to Avoid Allergens
One way to decrease the likelihood that you will experience allergy symptoms if you know that you have allergic rhinitis is to avoid the allergen. This means spending more time indoors during the time of year when the allergen is widespread. If you know that you are allergic to a specific plant’s pollen, you can decrease its effect by removing the plant from your yard. On the other hand, a ragweed allergy may mean that you spend more time indoors in the early fall to avoid it. Wearing a face mask may help to reduce breathing the allergen into your nose.
Desensitization is the treatment used by your doctor or nurse practitioner once the specific allergy is determined through a skin-prick test. (The allergen will cause a skin reaction, so this is how an allergist identifies the culprit causing your allergy.) This immune system desensitization usually occurs through injections of microscopic amounts of the allergen over a period of six months. This incremental exposure of the allergen can cause the body to become less reactive to it, and also reduces the inflammation caused by allergic rhinitis (per the ACAAI).
Unless you have severe symptoms or asthma, sniffling and sneezing more than usual will likely be annoying but not health-impacting. Taking an over-the-counter allergy pill or staying indoors if your symptoms are bothering you may be all that is necessary for those symptoms to disappear!
If you are struggling with seasonal Mississippi allergies, get in touch today to schedule your appointment with JFMC Ellisville!