Allergies: Fighting Spring Allergies
allergic rhinitis, spring allergies, is one of the most common
allergic conditions in the United States,
affecting 35.9 million people. This condition is responsible for
approximately 16.7 million office visits to health care providers
each year, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
(AAAAI). In recognition of National Allergy and Asthma Awareness
Month, Paul V. Williams, MD, and Fellow of the AAAAI, answers common
questions about spring allergies. Dr. Williams is an allergist/immunologist
at the Northwest Asthma and Allergy Center in Mount Vernon, WA.
Q: I love to garden but my allergies make my eyes water and I
begin sneezing. What tips can you give me so I can continue my
You may be able to adjust your gardening schedule to help your
allergies. Different pollens are released at different times of
the day, by avoiding the peak pollen release times; you may be
able to reduce your symptoms. An allergist/immunologist can help
you deal with your symptoms in other ways as well, including medications
Q: My family likes to travel over the summer, what tips are there
for traveling with allergies?
Be prepared to treat or prevent allergy symptoms by having medications
available or by starting preventative medications before you leave.
Close your windows and use the air conditioner to help keep out
pollen and mold spores. Outdoor air pollution can worsen allergy
symptoms; to avoid this, plan biking or hiking in the early morning
or at night when the air quality is better. Before beginning a
lengthy car trip, turn on the air conditioner or heater and open
the windows for 10 minutes to help remove dust mites and/or molds
that may be in the system.
Q: How can I find out what the pollen levels are in my area?
The National Allergy Bureau (NAB) has approximately 75 certified
pollen counting stations throughout the United States; consult
their Web site, www.aaaai.org/nab, for your location. Many of
the pollen counting stations give their pollen counts to local
newspapers or TV stations for broadcast or publication also.
The NAB currently provides the most accurate and reliable pollen
and mold counts by using air sampling equipment to collect airborne
pollen and spores.
Q: When does the spring allergy season end?
Allergy seasons vary throughout the country. In general terms,
early spring is the time for tree pollens. Grass pollen usually
is present in the late spring, early summer, and weed pollens
are present in the late summer and early fall. In warmer climates,
each of these seasons may start earlier; vice versa for colder
climates. Some parts of the country have less weed pollens than
others, so their prime pollen season may end earlier.
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