Many people haven’t broken free from the grip of winter yet, but now is the time to start thinking about spring allergies.
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In fact, the season is already under way in some areas of the country because the trees already are budding. Once they begin to flower, allergy sufferers need to be prepared.
“Maple, elm, hickory and oak are the common allergies for springtime,” allergy specialist Lily Pien, MD says.
Nearly 50 million people in the United States suffer from allergic reactions. The most common type of allergic reaction results from pollen. Molecular particles are released into the air by trees, grasses and weeds, so it’s no surprise many people get the sniffles and sneezes as the weather begins to change.
Plan ahead to limit symptoms
Allergy season doesn’t officially start until the end of March in the Midwest, but some parts of the country are already reaching for the tissue boxes.
“It depends on how warm the weather is,” Dr. Pien says. “If it’s really warm, people begin to experience symptoms that much sooner.”
The harsh winter could cause more severe allergy symptoms, too. The amount of moisture from the snow and cold affects pollination and plant growth.
Symptoms include itchy eyes, nose and throat, watery eyes and nasal drainage.
People who have seasonal allergies should prepare for their symptoms before they start, Dr. Pien says.
“It’s best to take medications ahead of time so you’ve built up a good baseline when allergy season starts,” she says. “That way, you’re not chasing after your symptoms once they’ve already started.”
If you receive allergy shots, for instance, you should begin getting them a few months before the season. People who try oral tablets, now FDA-approved and available for grass-allergy and ragweed-allergy, should begin 12 weeks prior to peak season, too. A less-invasive option for allergy treatment, the oral tablets dissolve in your mouth. Unlike shots, oral tablets treat just one kind of pollen allergy.
Over-the-counter antihistamines and over-the-counter steroid nose sprays are used to keep symptoms under control before and throughout the season.
If your symptoms persist and last more than seven to 10 days, you should consider seeing your doctor.
Seasonal allergy rates on the rise
Dr. Pien says it’s no surprise that some people experience allergy symptoms for the first time as a young adult. Teens and adults in their mid-20s may notice allergy symptoms seemingly out of nowhere. Genes are the cause of this phenomenon.
“The number of people who have allergies seems to be on the rise,” she says.
This increased incidence rate is attributed by allergists to a change in lifestyle by allergists; living in urban areas, as opposed to living on farms, and staying indoors seems to promote the development of allergies in the younger population.