Winter brings the dread of heavy snowfall for many, especially those that live further north. With the onset of spring, however, an equal number of individuals fear the approach of the allergy season in full force. Sometimes, people who do not have strong allergies still apprehend the spring months because they are prone to get sick, seemingly without rhyme or reason. Those who fall victim to Earth’s many natural curveballs are often those who have not been armed with knowledge. Scientists, health experts and writers are teaming up this year like never before to place information in the hands of the people.
Whether or not you periodically suffer from heavy allergy onset during the arrival of the warmer months, the attraction provided by sunlight and warmth outside is much-needed relief from dark and cold winter months. However, doctors highly recommend avoiding too much time outside when allergies are first starting to permeate, or at least rationing your time outdoors. Dr. Andrew Murphy of the Chester County Hospital in West Chester, Pennsylvania advises his clients that if they must exercise outside, to do so less in the morning and more in the afternoon or evening. This is because pollen circulation is higher during the sunrise hours than it is later in the day.
It is always nice to be able to let a warm breeze in through the window, either at work or at home. Regrettably, this move is also conducive to the spread of pollen. Warm, slightly dry days with a moderate to brisk breeze are the days that help pollen spread more widely, says Dr. Rana Bonds from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. It is best to keep windows closed on days like this to help suppress the allergy season and its side effects from approaching in full force.
Researchers have also found a high association between individuals who had experienced more stress during their week, and additional flare-ups of allergy symptoms. Dr. Murphy tells his patients that as long as they are not experiencing severe symptoms, periodic exercise is still healthy and advisable, and will help to lower stress. In a separate study, 70 people of the 179 studied throughout one month had at least two flare-ups in allergy symptoms, which correlated with higher stress levels, as opposed to the remaining 109 people who did not experience allergy symptoms during the study period.
Perhaps the most important action to take when fighting pollen is to avoid self-medication. Dr. James Sublett of Family Allergy and Asthma in Louisville, Kentucky, mentions that the more common types of pollination are not necessarily the sole cause of allergy symptoms that people experience year after year. He says that individuals should speak with a professional who can more closely identify the type of allergies they are experiencing, rather than taking a wild guess on one’s own.
Most of the Midwest experienced a long and wet winter this year, in addition to the late arrival of spring. Dr. Joseph Leija of Chicago, Illinois mentions that as the weather continues to warm up, and rainfall helps plant life grow, “it’ll be grass and pollen coming out in large quantities.” Even though pollen is already approaching in full force, citizens will do well to heed the advice of doctors and health specialists around the country this allergy season.
By Brad Johnson