With all the blooming flowers and greenery springing up among us — as beautiful as it may be — it comes with a price..
You guessed it: allergies.
Featuring itchy and watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, cough and wheezing allergies are triggered by an overreaction of the body to pollen.
Each season, trees and grasses releases billions of pollen granules into the air — using the wind to distribute it across the countryside in an effort to reproduce.
Plants that release more pollen have the survival advantage.
Seasonal allergies have been around for centuries and are currently on the rise, affecting 10 to 30 percent of the world’s population.
In 1819, Dr. John Bostock published a description of his own seasonal allergies but he did not know what was causing them.
Bostock eventually believed that the recurring symptoms were triggered by the summer heat.
Dr. Charles Blackley was the first to identify that pollen was the culprit of allergy symptoms through both methodical study and self-experimentation.
He first collected, identified and described various pollens and then determined their allergic properties by rubbing them into his eyes or scratching them on his skin.
He then took note of which ones resulted in redness and itching — and it is this same technique that is used in skin prick testing by allergists today.
Dr. Leonard Noon and John Freeman were inspired by these discoveries related to vaccination and prepared doses of pollen extracts for injection in hopes to desensitize patients with allergic rhinitis in the early 1900s.
The effective treatment is called allergy immunotherapy — known as allergy shots — and it is still being used today.
Antihistamines first became available in the 1940s but they were known to cause significant sedation.
The formula with fewer side effects have been available since the 1980s and are widely used today.
Due to warmer temperatures and increased carbon dioxide levels, pollen seasons are longer while pollen counts are higher.
According to experts, many believe this will grow worse in the next few years due to climate change.
To help keep you and your family and friends safe from pollen — be sure to close windows and change out of clothes that have been exposed to pollen as soon as you come inside.
So what steps can you take? Usually, there are many steps for relief.
The first thing you can do is to figure out what exactly are causing your allergens.
You can do this by taking notes of when your symptoms start in a calendar or a planner.
This one goes without saying, but be sure to minimize your exposure to allergens.
Another helpful tip is to track pollen counts — and when they are high, keep windows closed at home as well in the car.
Taking a pro-active step to treat your symptoms will help you prevent them from getting out of hand. This can also help decrease the need for medication.
Seeing a board certified allergist and/or immunologist could also help you determine which specific pollen may be the source of your symptoms.
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