Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring and Seasonal Allergies

The trees are blooming, you can hear the grass growing, and the flowers are poking their heads out of the ground in Northeast Arkansas – this means some people are sneezing, they have runny noses, and itchy eyes.

Each spring, summer, and fall, tiny particles are released from trees, weeds, and grasses. These particles, known as pollen, hitch rides on currents of air. Although their mission is to fertilize parts of other plants, many never reach their targets. Instead, they enter human noses and throats, triggering a type of seasonal allergic rhinitis called pollen allergy, which many people know as hay fever.

Short of staying indoors when the pollen count is high--and even that may not help--there is no easy way to evade windborne pollen.

The types of pollen that most commonly cause allergic reactions are produced by the plain-looking plants (trees, grasses, and weeds) that do not have showy flowers. These plants manufacture small, light, dry pollen granules that are custom-made for wind transport. Samples of ragweed pollen have been collected 400 miles out at sea and two miles high in the air. Because airborne pollen is carried for long distances, it does little good to rid an area of an offending plant--the pollen can drift in from many miles away. In addition, most allergenic pollen comes from plants that produce it in huge quantities. A single ragweed plant can generate a million grains of pollen a day.


A pollen count, which is familiar to many people from local weather reports, is a measure of how much pollen is in the air. This count represents the concentration of all the pollen (or of one particular type, like ragweed) in the air in a certain area at a specific time. It is expressed in grains of pollen per square meter of air collected over 24 hours. Pollen counts tend to be highest early in the morning on warm, dry, breezy days and lowest during chilly, wet periods. Although a pollen count is an approximate and fluctuating measure, it is useful as a general guide for when it is advisable to stay indoors and avoid contact with the pollen.

You can track pollen counts via your smart phone.

The Weather Channel App will allow you to setup notifications on pollen counts.

There is an app called Pollen.Com

How to Treat Seasonal Allergies (aka Hay Fever)

Anti-Inflammatory Nasal Spray - works directly at the source to relieve your symptoms and won't cause drowsiness.
Antihistamines - Block only one of the many inflammatory substances (histamine) that produce symptoms.

Eye drops - Helps treat itchy, watery eyes associated with allergies, but not the stuffy nose or sneezing

Nasal Decongestants - Clears nasal passages but can, after 3 days of use, cause a “rebound effect,” which makes a stuffy nose worse. 

Home Remedies - Some, like saline rinses, may provide decongestant relief for some people. 

Allergen Avoidance -This means to simply avoid—if possible—your allergy triggers.

If you seasonal allergies are impacting your life - make an appointment to see your local physician. 
~ Connie Ash, MSN, FNP, APRN ~
Family Medicine Associates
Blytheville AR.

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