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Hartselle Enquirer

Pollen keeps us sneezing

Spring and the beautiful flowers, green grass, budding and flowering trees, sneezing, running noses, itchy eyes.

Whoa. How’d that change?

It seems everyone I talk to is either suffering from allergies or has someone in their immediate family that is. I found out that over 50 million people in the United States are affected by allergies.

No wonder it seems like everyone and his or her neighbor is sneezing. When I checked the “allergy” forecast for our area it was a 9.6 out of 10. Predominately we’re being bombarded by Elm and Cedar/Juniper. Our allergy forecast is expected to remain high for some time.

Well, I decided to find out just why I’m so miserable. I found enough information to fill a book. The simplest most concise answer I found was this:

“An allergy is an abnormally high sensitivity reaction to an ordinarily harmless substance. The immune system of an allergic person reacts when an allergen is absorbed into their body, treating the substance as a harmful invader, causing the white blood cells to begin producing IgE antibodies which attach themselves to mast cells. When this occurs it causes the body to release histamine, which can cause allergy symptoms such as watery eyes, itching, sneezing or a runny nose.” – Judy Tidwell, Your Guide to Allergies.

OK, so that means what? It means my body is confused and is attacking something it doesn’t need to and I’m miserable. Well, I found out why I am so miserable. The next step is to find some solutions to feel better. On with the research!

The first order of business is to make sure it’s allergies causing the problem. Hello, Doctor? Yep, it’s doctor visit time.

Well, we’ve (my family and I) have seen the doctor and he says that it’s allergies. I think everyone in my house is on allergy medication — I should buy stock in a pharmaceutical company! The medication does help, but I began to wonder what else could I do to help alleviate some of these allergies.

Back to the research! I love the Internet.

According to American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (try saying that 10 times fast) they recommend the following things:

Avoid the cause of the allergy. Well, that’s a good idea, but, to avoid the allergies here, I’d have to stop breathing! I know, I know – that’s not what they mean. I’m irritable when I’m miserable.

The AAAAI suggests keeping the windows and doors closed and the air conditioner and dehumidifier running. The AAAAI also suggest keeping car windows closed when traveling and minimizing outdoor activity when the pollen count is high or the wind is blowing.

Did you know that plants typically release pollen at certain times of the day? So find out the general time your allergen is being released and avoid being outside during that time. Another suggestion was to wear a paper mask when mowing or raking because those activities stir up the pollen.

Take vacations to more pollen-free places like the beach or sea. (Anyone for a two-month long vacation? Do you think my husband’s boss would go for that one? I can just see him saying, “I need a two-month vacation to take my family to a more pollen-free environment.” Not!)

It’s also recommended that not hang clothing or sheets out to dry. The pollen collects on them. (Rats, I love sun dried sheets. I’ll just have to wait until the pollen settles down.)

The last suggestion is just common sense. Take a bath or shower after outdoor activity to wash off any allergens that may have collected on you.

According to the information I have, the high pollen counts will continue for a while. I bet the electric company loves us about now. We can’t go without the air conditioner – nobody can breathe!

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