Oh, those seasonal allergies. Allergies are all too common; it's estimated that thirty five million Americans suffer from respiratory ailments resulting from inhaled airborne allergens. Many of these people develop asthma as well.
What Are Airborne Allergens
The most common airborne allergen is pollen; a pollen allergy is also known as hay fever. Other airborne allergens include dust and mold spores. Pollen is the name for the tiny particles released into the air by trees, flowers and weeds in order to reproduce. The plants make a huge amount of pollen, because most of it never reaches its intended source. Instead, it is attached to the bodies of animals and carried around. People inhale these airborne particles, which in some people cause allergies.
Symptoms of Allergies
Common symptoms of allergies include:
- Stuffy nose
- Watery eyes
- Postnasal drip
- Dark circles under the eyes
How Can I Protect Myself Against Airborne Allergens?
Doctors recommend three methods to protect yourself from allergens of all kinds: allergen avoidance , symptom relief and desensitization. Symptom relief can be found through over the counter or prescription medication in the form of pills or sprays . Regular injections of small doses of allergens can reduce sensitivity to the pollen, but require long term maintenance. Allergen avoidance is possible, but very difficult for those with airborne allergies.
The easiest way to ease an allergy is to avoid the source. However, those allergic to airborne particles see little relief as it is virtually impossible to avoid the air! Doctors do recommend taking certain measures to minimize exposure to allergens.
- It is recommended you use air conditioning whenever possible; maximize air filtration by putting cheesecloth over the vents.
- Avoid the outdoor air, especially during peak pollen seasons. Your local weather channel should be able to tell you daily pollen counts. Stay inside on hot, dry and windy days.
- Be sure you change your air filter on a regular basis.
- If you have a pet, brush them off when they come indoors. Pets can carry pollen in their fur.
- If you must be outdoors for longer than a few minutes, consider wearing a face mask. The mask will prevent pollen from being inhaled. Leave the yard work to someone with out airborne allergies.
- Carry an inhaler if you suffer from wheezing or asthma.
- Vacuum and dust regularly. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
New Treatments To Ease Allergies
There are two new treatments still undergoing research by the FDA. The first is an allergy vaccine called Pollinex Quattro, which is a series of four shots administered over four weeks. The shots are based on salmonella bacteria and are already in use in Europe. They have been shown to have minimal side effects, which mostly include mild to moderate irritation at the injection site. The other possible treatment is the use of vitamin B-12, which is a known immune system booster. Apparently, using this vitamin at extremely high doses for six weeks decreases allergy symptoms for a few months. High doses of vitamin B-12 are safe; participants in the trial took 2,500 times the recommended daily allowance.
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