Spring is generally a joyous time of awakening and rebirth. However, it can be miserable for those with pollen allergies. Hay fever, or an allergy to pollen, affects an estimated 26 million Americans every spring. That's a lot of sneezing and sniffling.
What Causes Allergies?
No one yet knows why some people are more susceptible than others to developing allergies. Although there is a definite genetic connection, there could very well be an environmental cause as those in third world countries very rarely have allergies. While the underlying cause for development is unknown, we do understand how allergies work. If you're a particularly bitter allergy sufferer, if may make you feel better to blame your immune system, as it is entirely responsible for creating an allergic reaction.
Things like pollen, dust, and mold enter the body through the respiratory system where they are processed by resident cells in the lung tissue. These cells then allow the immune system to check them out to make sure they're not harmful. The immune system will either 1) instruct the resident cells to dispose of the foreign particle quickly and quietly or 2) mount a stronger response, causing sneezing, watery eyes, and congestion, all in an effort to trap incoming particles. The second response is responsible for allergic reactions. Pollen and dust are fairly inert substances, but the immune system of someone with an allergy sees them as incredibly harmful and goes haywire attempting to get rid of them, causing irritating symptoms in the process.
How Can I Prevent My Allergies?
The absolute best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid that which triggers it. Because this is nearly impossible for those with pollen, mold, or dust allergies - even when inside - other steps must be taken. Air conditioners and furnaces are two of the biggest contributors to indoor allergies. While constant airflow may seem like a good thing, it can stir up dust, mold spores, and dust mite feces, resulting in a mixture that's perfect for triggering an allergic reaction.
Central Air systems can be incredibly helpful for those with indoor allergies when equipped with a HEPA - or high-efficiency particle accumulator - filter. Central Air systems work by transferring heat from inside the house out into the environment. A special fluid known as refrigerant cycles back and forth from a liquid to gas. When it enters the house as a liquid, it absorbs heat energy and turns into a gas. The gas is then shuttled outside, where it gets condensed and turned back into a liquid, releasing heat in the process. However, cooling a room can't occur efficiently without the help of a fan: the key to stirring up that dust-filled air. You can capture this dust with the help of a HEPA filter, which prevents over 99 percents of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns from passing through it. To put that into perspective, a particle 0.3 microns in size would have to be magnified 150 times in order to see it. You may not be able to avoid the pollen and dust outside, but with the use of a HEPA filter-equipped central air system, you can be nearly allergy-free inside.
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