Don’t let seasonal allergies take over your life; consider this guide to stay one step ahead.
Spring, summer, and fall might be the seasons of beauty, but for many people, they bring nothing but sneezes, sniffles, and discomfort. Allergies can be a real pain, and they affect millions of people every year. From pollen to pets, dust mites to mold, allergens are everywhere, and they can make life miserable for those who are sensitive to them. And if you think you’re safe from allergies just because they don’t run in your family, think again. Atopy, a genetic tendency to develop allergies, can be just as much of a culprit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 60 million people in the United States suffer from allergies, and the season seems to be getting worse every year. In Europe, the pollen counts vary depending on the climate and vegetation, so seasonal allergies can be a real hit or miss.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has just released its latest report on the worst cities to live in if you have allergies. Using factors like pollen count, use of over-the-counter medication, and the number of allergy physicians in the area, the report ranked cities across the country. Last year’s top five worst cities were Wichita, Dallas, Scranton, Oklahoma City, and Tulsa, with Florida boasting seven cities in the top 20. Cities in the Northeast also ranked high due to their lack of over-the-counter medication use and allergists. On the flip side, some of the least challenging places to live with allergies were Buffalo, Seattle, Cleveland, Austin, Akron, Ohio, and Washington, D.C.
But this year’s allergy season is no joke. The report shows that pollen levels have arrived early and with full force, fitting in with regional trends seen over the past decade. For instance, McAllen, Tex., Oklahoma City, Richmond, San Antonio, and Wichita have consistently had the highest pollen rankings in the country. According to William Anderegg, a plant ecologist, the amount of pollen in a city depends on a combination of climate, plant species, and the amount of vegetation. In many European countries, pollen allergies tend to be highly seasonal, with varying degrees of pollen release depending on the climate and vegetation.
What Months Have Seasonal Allergies?
As the seasons change, so do the allergens that make millions of people across the United States and Europe sneeze, cough, and feel downright miserable. Seasonal allergies can begin as early as February in the US and last until the early summer, depending on the pollination patterns of different plants. Trees start pollinating first, followed by grass and ragweed, which cause allergies from March to September. The fall season sees a spike in other weed pollens, from August to November.
But it’s not just the US that suffers from seasonal allergies—most European countries also experience highly seasonal pollen allergies that last from spring to autumn. Geographical differences come into play, depending on the climate and vegetation. The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) even has criteria for determining the start of the pollen season for different plant species. For example, the grass pollen season officially begins when 5 out of 7 consecutive days carry more than 10 grass pollen grains/m³ air, and the sum of pollen in these 5 days is more than 100 pollen grains/m³ air. Concentrations exceeding 10 and 12 grains/m³ air can even lead to increased emergency department visits and hospitalizations.
What are the Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies?
The symptoms of seasonal allergies can vary in severity, and it is important to note that the symptoms of seasonal allergies can overlap with those of other respiratory conditions, such as the common cold or flu.
Some of the common symptoms of seasonal allergies may include the following:
- Runny nose: A runny nose is another common symptom of seasonal allergies. The nose may produce clear, thin mucus that can become thicker and darker in color over time.
- Nasal congestion: Nasal congestion is the feeling of having a stuffy nose. This occurs when the tissues inside the nose become swollen and inflamed.
- Itchy or watery eyes: The eyes may become itchy, watery, and red due to an allergic reaction to pollen.
- Scratchy throat: A scratchy or sore throat can be a symptom of seasonal allergies, as the pollen can irritate the throat.
- Coughing: Coughing can occur due to postnasal drip, which is when mucus from the nose drips down the back of the throat.
- Fatigue: Seasonal allergies can cause fatigue, which can make it difficult to concentrate or be productive.
Some Home Remedies for Treating Seasonal Allergies
- Honey: Consuming local honey can help reduce allergy symptoms by exposing your body to small amounts of pollen, which can help build immunity. Add a teaspoon of honey to warm water or tea to soothe a sore throat.
- Nasal irrigation: Rinsing your nasal passages with a saline solution can help reduce congestion and relieve sinus pressure. You can use a neti pot or a saline nasal spray to irrigate your nasal passages.
- Steam inhalation: Inhaling steam can help loosen mucus and relieve congestion. Boil a pot of water and inhale the steam for 5–10 minutes, or use a steam inhaler.
- Probiotics: Consuming probiotics, either through supplements or fermented foods, may help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation.
- Essential oils: Peppermint, eucalyptus, and lavender essential oils have anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties that can help alleviate allergy symptoms. Diffuse these oils or mix them with carrier oils and apply them to the chest, back, or temples.
- Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar has natural antihistamine properties that can help reduce allergy symptoms. Mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water and drink it in the morning.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C has antioxidant properties that can help reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Eat vitamin C-rich foods, such as oranges, strawberries, and kiwis, or take vitamin C supplements.
The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not intended to replace the advice of a healthcare professional. Before making any significant changes to your diet, lifestyle, or healthcare regimen, please consult with your healthcare provider.
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