Why Spring Allergies Happen and How to Ease Them
It may be hard to believe as you reach for yet another tissue, but you don't have to suffer with the itchy eyes and stuffy noses that seasonal allergies bring.
Some simple steps can make a big difference, according to an allergies expert.
“Predisposition combined with westernized changes in living and diet and overuse of antibiotics is what probably helps determine our chances of acquiring allergies,” said Dr. Timothy Craig, director of allergy, immunology and respiratory clinical research at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey.
Many variables can cause someone to become allergic, Craig noted.
“It's not like some diseases that are just based on one gene,” he said in a center news release. “It's definitely multiple genes combined with the environment exposures.”
A family history of allergies, atopic dermatitis and asthma can predispose a person to suffer from allergies. Overall health, lack of exercise, obesity and poor diet also affect symptoms.
Early exposure to second-hand smoke and air pollution can also make a person vulnerable to allergies.
The hygiene hypothesis is another consideration, suggesting that being too clean has led to poor development of the immune system and less tolerance for allergy triggers.
Diet, exercise and exposures all help develop the bacteria that colonize someone's skin, airway and gastrointestinal system. These colonies are referred to as a microbiome, and certain microbiomes make a person more likely to develop allergies, according to Penn State Health.
There are several ways to reduce your allergy symptoms:
- Shower at the end of the day to remove pollen from your hair and body.
- Wash clothes that were worn outside before wearing them again.
- Rinse your nose with saline before bed to remove debris.
- Use over-the-counter topical nasal steroids regularly for best results. Low-sedating antihistamines also work well but are not as good as nasal steroids.
- Over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops can also help.
If you're still suffering, see your doctor. You may be able to begin desensitizing yourself to the allergy through shots or tablets.
A healthy diet, exercise and sleep can help you feel better and may even decrease some allergic symptoms, Craig said.
Avoid outdoor activity in the late afternoon when winds usually pick up and disperse more pollen.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has more on seasonal allergies.
SOURCE: Penn State Health, news release, April 13, 2023