Saturday, June 2, 2012

Seasonal Allergies Aint Nothing to Sniffle About

My Seasonal Allergies went into overdrive this  Spring and not even the knowledge that several other millions of people worldwide suffer similar torment will bring relief.  This little nag that also go by the name Hay Fever took three weeks of my spring away despite my protests, and now I am here to officially lodge a complaint to who ever will listen.  I thank you in advance for sympathizing.

I have endured the runny nose, congested sinuses, sore throat, sneezing and post-nasal drip.  The worst of the symptoms of allergic rhinitis for me is diminished sense of taste and smell, the double whammy that greatly interferes with my appetite.  And when I have trouble eating I quickly lose enthusiasm for the gym and my fitness suffers.

Hay fever symptoms are so similar to those of a Cold that it takes a an allergy expert to definitively tell them apart. So a combination of consistent symptoms and positive allergy test will draw the diagnosis. Cold symptoms often appear one at a time, first sneezing, then running nose then congestion while allergy symptoms will all hit you at once, Bam! And while cold symptoms will typical last 7 to 10 days and peaks during winter, allergy symptoms will persist as long as pollen exposure occurs usually in the spring and fall.

The culprit really is Pollen. In the spring, plants are aggressively spreading their pollen in a frenzied bid to cross-pollinate and perpetuate their species.  It is easy to get caught in this cross-fire of pollen during the spring plant reproductive frenzy. And if your immune system is a little on the sensitive side, then an exaggerated immune response will be your portion, aka hay fever.  Pollen is this powdery, egg-shaped grains released by flowering plants and carried by insects and/or air to cross-pollinate other plants of the same species.  when the pollen lands on your skin, eyes, nose or lungs the immune system elicits allergic reactions like allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis and allergic asthma.

Tree pollen, grass pollen, ragweed pollen, and mold are the four main causes of seasonal allergies.

During the worst of my spring episode with pollen exposure, I did not wheeze with breathing and as long as I blew my nose and cleared my throat, I could breathe without a lot of obstruction.  But there are lots of people out there whose symptoms can be debilitating enough to warrant medical intervention.

The best non-medical remedy out there is avoidance.  You may avoid the outdoors in the mornings (between 5 and 10 am) when pollen concentration is at it's highest and windows and doors to the outside must be shut. Keep the car window closed when traveling and avoid freshly cut grass and let other people do the lawn mowing.  And you may also want to avoid hanging laundry outside, lest it collects pollen. But this evasive method is very limited in usefulness at best unless living in a bubble sounds appealing to you.

There are several over the counter medications available to blunt the immune response to pollen including eye drops, nasal spray and Antihistamine pills (Claritin, Benadaryl, Allegra). The Antihistamines are hard on the body and if you can do without them, you probably should.  Yup because take a look at some of the contraindications for using these pills: High Blood Pressure, Liver and Kidney disease, Heart disease, Enlarged prostate, Glaucoma, Thyroid problems etc.

I have used Claritin in the past to control my symptoms, but this season I practiced avoidance with mixed results.  I find that the weekend of the Lilac festival is usually when I take the hit.  I didn't attend the Lilac festival, Calgary, last weekend not because I was avoiding pollen, but man, these plants need to tone down their cross pollination business a couple notches here before I escalate my complaining...


Thanks for reading this post, please share your experience in the comments below.
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  1. Very informative post! I have allergies too. Not seasonal though. I use to have a rough cough all the time and it drove me nuts. I started taking areus and all my problems disapear. Now after reading this I wonder if the past years of taking this have anything to do with my recent blood work request? Hmm something to think about I guess. Lauren G

    1. Hi Lauren nice you managed to shake off your seasonal allergies. Hurry with your blog, I am waiting to follow. Thanks for reading mine