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Living With Spring Hayfever:



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The hay fever season which ironically has nothing to do with either hay or fever is upon us.

Over 35 million Americans suffer from hay fever each year, and according to experts, this season is shaping up to be one of the worst.

We hay fever sufferers are about to be subjected to itching and watery eyes, stuffy noses, skin reactions, and other allergic reactions as high pollen counts invade the country sides and city blocks of America.

Hay fever or as I affectionately call it, "seasonal allergic rhinitis" is triggered by tree allergens such as pollens or molds.

The allergen triggers the release of histamine into the body which causes inflammation in the nose leading to the common symptoms of watery eyes, congestion, and sneezing.

So how do we allergy sufferers get through the season?

One - Make it a habit to monitor the pollen counts in your area. The National Allergy Bureau (NAB) has over 70 pollen counting stations throughout the nation. To view the pollen and mold counts for your area, go to the NAB website at http://www.aaaai.org/nab/index.cfm?p=pollen

Weather conditions, which can vary greatly, have a great impact on the pollen counts. This means you need to periodically monitor these counts. If the NAB is unreachable or inconvenient to you, be aware that some community newspapers publish the pollen and mold counts as well.

Two - control your environment by avoiding the pollens and molds that are making your spring miserable. Do this by making some of the following changes:

- Utilize your air conditioner to filter the outdoor air. In addition, change your heating and air conditioning filters every month.

- Pollen counts vary at different times of the day. Avoid peak pollen release times and limit your outdoor activity to the times when the pollen counts are at their lowest.

- Keeping windows closed at night to prevent pollens or molds from drifting into the home.

- Wash bedding in hot, not warm, water. In addition, look for detergent formulas that contain additives to remove allergens such as pollens, mildew and mold.

Three - make an appointment with an allergist. A certified allergist can assist you in identifying the exact allergens that are affecting you and provide you with a custom treatment plan (including pills, nasal sprays, herbs, acupuncture) to alleviate your symptoms.

Finally - if you're simply sick and tired of being forced to hide indoors for much of the spring season, you might want to try immunotherapy or allergy shots. Allergy shots, administered over a series of months, will help to increase your tolerance to the allergens that trigger your allergies. While not a cure, immunotherapy can help greatly in reducing your sensitivities to allergies.
 

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