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MAIN Arrow to HealthHealth Arrow to DiseaseDiseases Arrow to AllergiesAllergies

April Showers Bring... Spring Allergies

allergy suffererSpring brings green grass, budding trees and flowers everywhere. The sweet scents and bright colors attract bees to spread the pollen. Warm spring breezes carry the delightful odors and pollen through the air. The bad news is that many people are allergic to pollen.

Spring brings thoughts of romance to some, but others stock up tissues and allergy medication to help them make it through another "Rose Fever" season.

In the immune system, pollen is seen as an invader. Cells in the eyes, nose and sinuses produce liquids to wash the offending pollen out of the system. The worse the pollen count gets, the more fluids are produced to protect the body from the foreign matter.

What this means for allergy sufferers is runny noses, swollen eyes, sinus headaches and sneezing to blow away the pollen particles. Some of the fluid finds its way down to the lungs and can result in coughing, difficulty breathing, secondary bacterial infections and asthma attacks.

spring flowerMany allergy sufferers notice difficulty hearing well as fluid builds up. In severe cases the pressure of fluids inside the ears becomes high enough to cause the ear drum to tear. This is known as a perforated ear drum and can damage hearing even after the allergies have abated.

As the body gears up to fight off the pollen, some will experience body aches and other flu-like symptoms. Generally, allergies do not cause a fever, but with the immune system in overdrive fighting pollen, it is very possible for bacterial and viral infections to set in.

There are many ways to deal with spring allergies, both indoor and outdoors:

  • If you can avoid the pollen, that would be the best solution. However, many people would rather not relocate to a pollen-free area or spend the pollen season indoors.

  • Using High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) filters for your air conditioning and heating ducts as well as special HEPA air filters in rooms where you spend most of your time can help to trap the allergens in the air. HEPA vacuum bags keep the amount of pollen that gets into the air when you clean to a minimum.

  • Use allergen resistant bedding and change sheets and pillowcases twice a week if possible. Replace carpets with tiles or wood floors to avoid trapping pollen underfoot. Switch to leather or vinyl furniture covers and get rid of window treatments that are made of material. Vinyl blinds don't collect pollen and release it every time you walk by the windows or a breeze ruffles the drapes.

  • Try to confine outdoor activities to early morning and evening hours which tend to be less windy times of the day.

  • There are many over-the-counter drugs and homeopathic remedies for allergy sufferers that aim to reduce symptoms. Health care professionals who specialize in allergy treatment can prescribe drugs or allergy shots to help eliminate the allergies and their symptoms.

About The Author... Editorial Staff

also see related feature -> Ten Tips to Ease Spring Allergies

More about spring allergies around the Web:

Pollen Survival Guide - Spring Allergies - WebMD

Allergies and Pollen Reports - The Weather Channel

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