Happy spring! It's that time of year in Virginia when flowers, plants, and trees are blooming, the grass is green, requiring maintenance, and the air is fragrant with new life. It's also that time of year when millions of Americans are battling seasonal allergies. For some, spring is hopeful; for others, it's miserable.
Here are some facts and figures about seasonal allergies, and how you and your family members can keep them at bay:
What are seasonal allergies?
Seasonal allergies, commonly known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, occur when certain substances produce symptoms during a specific time of year. These symptoms can be caused by tree pollen, mold, ragweed, and a host of other things. Whatever the cause, an allergic reaction happens when a person's immune system reacts to a substance as though it were harmful, even if it really isn't. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can include a runny nose, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, inflammation, and congestion.
Why do people get seasonal allergies?
Seasonal allergies can run in families. They can also be triggered by a lack of exposure to certain allergens in a baby's earliest years. To reduce the risk of seasonal allergies, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology suggests a variety of things you can do, depending on your child's circumstances.
Medication is one options, and there are many that can help to control allergy symptoms. If your allergies are severe enough to warrant treatment, talk to your doctor about your options. In addition, there are many over-the-counter options, such as antihistamines or decongestants, that can alleviate your symptoms.
Immunotherapy is another treatment technique that works by introducing a small amount of the substance you're allergic to into your system in hopes that you'll become desensitized to it. This treatment can be administered through injection (allergy shots), drops, or tablets. Although it takes time and a dedicated regiment, it can be extremely effective. Talk to your doctor for more information.
If you're one of many sufferers of seasonal allergies, there are ways to minimize your misery. The Mayo Clinic suggests staying inside on dry, windy days; avoiding lawn mowing, gardening, and other outdoor chores (make somebody else do it!), and changing your clothes immediately if you've been outdoors.
Although they are not scientifically proven to work, common home remedies include apple cider vinegar, sinus rinses, ingestion of local honey, and changes to your diet.
Seasonal allergies can be challenging, but they don't have to ruin the season in question. Talk to your doctor to learn how to bring your allergies under control.
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