Pollen! What is it and Why Does it Make Me Miserable?

The pollen count

3/22/16: The pollen count is already in the “HIGH” range.

Pollen is one of the most common causes of allergies in the United States. You’ve seen it coating your car, wafting through the air and saturating your sidewalk—-the very fine, powdery, yellowish dusting which thrives in the Kentuckiana area. Our region is known to have prolific amounts of pollen which wreaks havoc and causes an adverse immune response in many of us.

Pollen is produced by trees, grasses, weeds and flowers. It fertilizes plants of the same species. Our immune system is an amazing protector, defending the body from harmful invaders and can prevents sickness. For those with pollen allergies, the immune system mistakenly targets the pollen as unhealthy and produces chemicals in your body to fight the pollen. The pollen has now become an “allergen” and the manifested fight is known as an “allergic reaction,” “hay fever” or “allergic rhinitis.”

Do you suffer in the spring? March and April allergies are almost always due to tree pollen. (It is important to start treatment before pollen season begins.)

Do you suffer around Derby time? Your are likely allergic to grass pollen. Sufferers in the late summer and fall can be allergic to ragweed. Pollen is wind-driven, can travel hundreds of miles and survive a mild winter. (Did you know the ragweed season has increased four additional weeks in the last 10-15 years–some say due to global warming.)

Some suffer pollen allergies year-round. Symptoms include: sinus pressure, facial pain, nasal congestion, cough, scratchy throat, watery/itchy eyes, runny nose, dark circles under the eyes and a decreased taste/smell sensation.

Using Neti pots, vacuuming regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum, frequent and immediate washing of clothes that have been worn outside, closing windows, using the air conditioner in your car and home, using HEPA filters and frequent changing of your home air filters can provide some sufferers relief.

Over-the-counter and/or prescription nasal sprays, antihistamines and decongestants can provide relief for many.

If those do not work, immunotherapy (allergy shots) is shown to reduce symptoms long-term in most children and adults. Call us at (502) 882-2063 to find out your options before the pollen season is upon us!

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended to create a doctor-patient relationship with any reader. If you need personalized medical advice, contact your primary care physician or other physician in your community.

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