It’s best to see a doctor and work together to develop an allergy management plan before symptoms get worse.
What is pollen allergy
Pollen allergy is the body’s response to exposure to pollen.
Pollen is a powdery, grainy substance often found in the flowers of trees, grasses and weeds.
They are mostly at their peak in spring, summer and fall. It can last several days or several months and exposure is difficult to avoid.
Pollen in the air can trigger a variety of symptoms.
Proper management of pollen allergy includes preventive medications and recognition of early symptoms.
Pollen Allergy Symptoms
Every immune system is different. Therefore, people’s reactions to pollen can cause various signs and symptoms.
The most common include:
- Runny nose (clear, fine nasal discharge)
- Stuffy nose (blockage or nasal congestion)
- Sneezing / Wheezing
- Itchy nose, eyes, ears and mouth
- Red and watery eyes
- Swelling around the eyes
People with pre-existing asthma may find that pollen allergy worsens their symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
Exposure to pollen can release water-soluble proteins on the body’s respiratory lining. These are usually harmless, but there are cases where the body mistakenly recognizes them as “triggers” or harmful substances.
Treatment of pollen allergy
The first and most crucial step in allergy management is preventing the allergen or substance causing the reaction. There is also a range of medications that help reduce pollen allergy symptoms.
Here are some treatments for pollen allergies.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications – A person can take antihistamines (Zyrtec, Claritin) weeks before the start of pollen season to prevent serious effects.
- Immunotherapy table – helps to desensitize or numb the body from pollen.
- Nasal sprays – help relieve the itching sensation and congestion caused by allergies. These include decongestants which are an effective short-term solution for swelling.
- Nasal corticosteroid sprays – help reduce inflammation or blockage of the nasal passages.
- Allergy shots – If medications don’t work, consider getting an allergy shot. Visit a doctor or allergist every few weeks to inject a small amount of pollen under the skin. After a few months, the body will get used to the substance and will not produce any serious symptoms.
Many of these treatments only help manage the symptoms, but cannot cure the allergy permanently.
Immunotherapy can help with long-term management, but usually takes years.
Prevention of pollen allergy
Here are some tips for reducing pollen exposure:
- Check the weather before you go. Stay indoors as much as possible when pollen counts are highest, usually when it’s cool, rainy, and humid.
- Keep pollen out. Avoid opening windows at home or in the car. Instead, pass the air through a HEPA filter to remove allergens from the air.
- Take extra precaution by wearing sunglasses outside to reduce the amount of pollen that gets into your eyes. If possible, wear wide-brimmed hats to prevent pollen from reaching the hair.
- Take your medications early before the start of pollen season. Most allergy medications work best this way to prevent the release of histamines and other chemicals in the body.
Pollen allergy symptoms can vary depending on the weather.
Pollen floating in the air from miles away can cause a reaction, which makes finding relief a little more difficult.
However, learning about its potential triggers (causes), providing treatment, and practicing avoidance methods is a good start.
Learn about the symptoms and treatment of pollen allergies in a first aid course.
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Brisbane First Aid