Effective Remedies for Pollen Allergies
Each spring flowers are blooming, lawns and trees are becoming more lush every day and… your eyes are watering, nose running, and you’re constantly sneezing. If this is your yearly struggle, there is a high chance that you have hay fever, allergic rhinitis, or a pollen allergy. Pollen allergy may be the most accurate for this kind of seasonal allergy caused by pollen from certain trees and flowers.
What is a pollen allergy?
Pollen is a fine powder produced by flowers, grasses, weeds, and trees to fertilize other plants of the same species. Because plants are mating and fertilizing, you are sneezing and dealing with sinus issues. But you’re not alone.
Many Americans suffer from adverse immune responses when pollen is in the air. According to recent statistics, about 20 million adult Americans and about 6 million Americans under 18 have hay fever. Also, a pollen allergy is considered the most common type of seasonal allergy in the United States.
Normally, the immune system ignores pollen. But, in some people have a hypersensitivity to this powder, and the body mistakenly identifies the pollen as a dangerous substance and starts to produce chemicals to beat the pollen naturally. This process is known as an allergic reaction and the pollen is the instigating allergen.
Major causes of pollen allergies
Some people may be allergic to all kinds of pollen, while the others to only specific types of the pollen from certain trees, weeds, flowers, and plants. According to WebMD, the most widespread types of pollen that can cause the seasonal allergies symptoms are:
- Herbs and flowers – chamomile, pigweed (Amaranth), daisies, chrysanthemums, goldenrod, and sunflowers.
- Vines and shrubs – juniper, wisteria, cypress, and jasmine vine;
- Grasses – timothy, redtop, salt grass, sweet vernal, Johnson, June, orchard, Bermuda, fescue, and perennial rye;
- Weeds – ragweed, sagebrush, cocklebur, Russian thistle;
- Trees – aspen (male), ash (male), alder, birch, beech, cedar, elm, red and silver maples, cottonwood, box elder, hickory, oak, olive, pecan, pine, sycamore, walnut, willow, palm, and mulberry.
Ragweed pollen allergy is the most common type in the United States, compared to other pollen allergies. During the spring season, stay away from these plants.
Pollen allergy: symptoms
Hay fever symptoms may vary individually depending on the person’s tolerance of pollen and the severity of the body’s response to this allergen. According to Healthline, the most common symptoms of allergies caused by pollen are:
- Sinus pressure;
- A runny nose;
- Facial pain;
- Nasal congestion;
- Watery, itchy nose;
- Scratchy throat;
- Increased asthma;
- Decreased sense of smell and taste;
- Swollen, bluish skin around the eyes.
Medical options for allergy treatment
The first recommendation that most health care specialists give to people with pollen allergy is to stay away from the allergen. You can minimize the risk of being exposed to the pollen by:
- Staying indoors during windy, dry days in spring;
- Avoiding a yard work or gardening during peak allergy seasons;
- Close the doors and windows if there is a lot of pollen around your house or office;
- Wearing a protective mask. If you suffer from allergies and have trouble functioning, you can use a special N95 respirator mask to reduce your symptoms and signs of allergies. You may feel funny doing it, but this mask can protect from 95% of small particles, like pollen and other allergens in the outdoor dust and air, which can significantly help you deal with these allergies. If you’re just at home or working around the house, try using this mask.
Medications for the treatment of pollen allergy symptoms
Preventive measures may not be enough to ease the symptoms of your pollen allergy. You still may need to use a prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) pollen allergy medication. First of all, you need to understand that there is no such thing as the best medicine for allergies, especially for seasonal types. Pollen allergy medicine that helped your family member or friend may be useless in your case. That is why you should consult an allergic diseases doctor before using any kind of a pollen allergy medicine. Also, keep in mind that the long-term use of anti-allergy drugs may cause additional allergic reactions.
According to WebMD, the 4 most common types of medical pollen allergy remedies are:
- Nasal steroids
- Allergy shots (immunotherapy)
Allergy shots or immunotherapy can help your immune system be calm when you inhale pollen. The small, gradually increasing amount of medications through the allergy shots can make you tolerant to pollen. But immunotherapy demands a long-term commitment (3-5 years) to build up the resistance to certain types of pollen causing your allergic reactions.
Recently, the Food and Drug Administration of the United States (FDA) approved some drug titles capable of replacing the allergy shots and being available in the form of under-the-tongue pills. The goal of these new immunotherapy drugs is to raise your tolerance to allergens.
Tips for home pollen allergy relief
Taking a prescription medicine for allergy may be your daily routine during the peak season when the allergen causing your hay fever is especially active. Also, you may also use these additional lifestyle tips and home remedies for allergies triggered by pollen:
- Use a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or dehumidifier to prevent dry and dirty air inside the room where you sleep or work;
- Vacuum daily with a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter;
- Take a shower, change clothes, and wash up more often than usual;
- Rinse out nasal passages using a neti pot, nasal bulb, or rinse kit;
- Drink more juice, water, herbal teas, soups, and other non-alcoholic and decaffeinated beverages;
- Avoid strong fumes (aerosol sprays, new perfumes, and wood-burning fireplaces);
- Inhale some steam over a warm bowl full of water or sitting in the bathroom/sauna with hot steam;
- Avoid cigarette smoke because the smoke may worsen such symptoms of allergies as stuffy nose, itching, and watery eyes.
It is a mistake to think that pollen allergy only happens one season of the year. In fact, some people may suffer from some of the milder symptoms of pollen allergy all year-round. Pollen allergy symptoms won’t go away on their own – they should be treated with medications or allergy shots. Certain changes in your lifestyle and natural allergy remedies may be also helpful, but only using ways of self-treatment for pollen allergy can be harmful.
Consult your medical professional for more tips on dealing with your seasonal allergies and get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!