Season for Sneezin'
Spring is a time of flowers, trees, soft breezes and Ė
POLLEN! To those that suffer from seasonal allergy,
spring is a time of torment Ė stuffy noses, sneezing and
Yes, Iím one of that crazy people who runs around closing
windows and who sits by the air conditioner sneezing while
everyone else is out enjoying green grass and soaking up the
Iím not alone. Over 40 million people suffer from environmental allergies. We watch pollen counts like
ball players watch the weather, and sometimes drastically
alter our lifestyle to live around our misery.
As you have probably figured out by now, spring allergies are
caused mostly by pollen, natural plant spores from flowering
plants. Pollen from regular garden flowers is not really
the problem since it is heavy pollen and is spread by bees
that donít have allergies and seldom sneeze.
The problem plants for us are things like grass, trees, weeds
and wildflowers whose pollen is lighter and is spread by the
wind instead of bees. Once it becomes airborne, pollen
is literally everywhere there is air, unless you live in a
desert or on a beach where few pollinating plants grow.
When an allergic person breathes air with pollen, the body
senses the pollen as an alien invasion and sends out a red
alert. To wage war on these sinister invaders, the body
creates antibodies, which cause a chain reaction resulting in
release of the ďhistamineĒ that cause the irritation and
sneezing. Thatís why so many anti-allergy medicines are
Symptoms of allergy are similar to those of the common cold.
Remember how stuffed up, tired and congested you were the last
time you had a miserable cold? Then you know why
allergic people are such fanatics about clean air. A big
difference between a cold and allergy is that you usually have
a fever with a cold. Also, a cold has the common
courtesy to go away after a week or two.
Allergies used to go untreated and were mostly simply ignored.
People sometimes tried to self-treat their symptoms with
medicines from the drugstore shelf. Many people probably
still suffer needlessly instead of going to the doctor Ė
they may think that they just sneeze a lot or that nothing
will help their sinus problems.
Allergy may now be treated with newer allergy medications.
There are also steroid sprays and other anti-inflammatory
sprays and medicines that help with inflammation. I take
allergy shots, medicine specially prepared for my particular
needs. Yes, itís inconvenient to have to go to the
doctor weekly to get stuck with a needle Ė but itís also
inconvenient to be sick all the time.
The idea of the injections is to help to build your resistance
to the allergens so that eventually your body will quit
hitting the panic button when it senses pollen.
Now, I hope all this stuff means nothing to you, and you
canít figure out what the fuss is about over a bit of flower
dust. But chances are someone you know suffers from
seasonal allergy. Spring pollens are but one of the
common allergens. There are also mold and mildew spores
that can become airborne, and this is not to even mention the
fall pollens and hay fever, or indoor irritants - house and
pet dander being principle among them. So, you see why
people need different medications according to their
And so those with the annoyance of seasonal allergies press
bravely on, sniffling and sneezing all the way. Tomorrow
I plan to brave the elements to do a bit of yard work.
It rained today and the pollen count should be lower,
especially in the middle of the day. Thatís my theory
Itís a great spring, and I intend to get out and enjoy it -
just as soon as I blow my nose.