It is summer, and it is that time of the year again when your allergies act up. Summers should be spent outdoors, having fun in the sun. But if you have the sniffles, your days would not be as enjoyable.
Summer is the peak season of grass and weed allergies. These plants produce highly allergenic pollens that trigger the most bothersome allergy symptoms. In North America, their pollinating periods overlap. Grasses pollinate from April to September, while weeds start to pollinate in July until November. Around this time, doctors expect a surge of allergy sufferers knocking at their door.
Allergenic pollens are built for wind transport. They are light, dry granules that are easily carried away by the wind.
Grasses produce such allergenic pollens, but not all species are significant inducers. The most common allergenic grasses include timothy grass, sweet vernal grass, orchard grass, Kentucky bluegrass, Johnson grass, and Bermuda grass.
As for allergy-causing weeds, ragweed is the most common. Others include the English plantain, Russian thistle (tumbleweed), firebush (burning bush), lamb’s quarters (goosefoot), sagebrush, redroot pigweed, dock, and mugwort.
Hay fever, or seasonal allergic rhinitis, is the most common effect of grass and weed pollen. The condition manifests as a runny, stuffy nose, coupled with sneezing, eye irritation, and an inflamed itchy throat. Hoarseness and loss of voice can occur. You will also notice allergic shiners, or dark circles under the eyes caused by increased blood flow near the sinuses.
If the irritation gets worse, conjunctivitis and post nasal drip can also develop. More severe allergic symptoms include asthma attacks and chronic sinusitis. It is likely to cause mental dullness, fatigue, headaches, and impaired sleep.
If sleep is becoming close to impossible, it is about time that you visit your doctor. Lack of sleep can weaken your resistance and can obviously affect your over-all health.
For most patients suffering from grass and weed allergies, over-the-counter pills and nasal sprays can be prescribed, but they only offer temporary relief. If the allergy continues to be bothersome, the patient will be screened for allergens. Several species of grasses and weeds are tested. Once the allergen is identified, immunotherapy can be administered by injecting tiny amounts of custom-made vaccines under skin once a week for a 6-month period, until the body becomes immune to the allergen.
Allergenic grass and weed pollens are windborne, and because they are in the air, the allergens are easily inhaled and are practically unavoidable. Anyhow, listed below are some suggestions to lower your exposure to pollen.
1. When indoors, keep your windows closed and use air conditioning, especially at night.
2. When outdoors, keep your windows rolled up when driving.
3. Use air-conditioning instead of fans to keep cool.
4. Dry your clothes indoors in an automatic dryer, because if they are left to dry outside, they can collect pollen.
5. Once you get home, take a shower immediately to rinse off pollens that could have stuck to your hair and your skin. Watch out because even your pets can carry pollens into the house.
6. When mowing the lawn, wear a mask, or have someone else mow the lawn for you. Make sure that grass is cut short and trimmed regularly to slow down their pollen production.
7. The best time to do errands and activities outdoors is during the late afternoon or after a heavy rain when there are lower pollen levels. Avoid being outside between 5:00AM-10:00AM.
Seek a treatment that works for you and stop missing out on enjoying summer days outdoors.