When you’re hiking along Wissahickon Valley Park enjoying the beautiful wildflowers in bloom, there’s nothing more frustrating than feeling itchy, watery eyes, scratchy throat and sneezing coming on. To help you manage your springtime allergies, we’ve compiled a guide to help you understand the causes and how to find relief.
What Causes Allergies?
Your immune system’s job is to protect you from diseases,
viruses and infections. But sometimes it mistakes a harmless substance, like pollen, as a dangerous intruder and attacks. To fight off this intruder, the immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which triggers the cells to release histamine. Histamine increases mucus production and causes inflammation, which is why you experience symptoms such as:
- Red, itchy, watery or puffy eyes.
- Runny nose.
- Scratchy throat.
- Postnasal drip.
- Itchy skin.
A substance that causes this response is known as an allergen.
Common Springtime Allergens
The most common springtime allergen is pollen from trees, grasses and weeds. Tree pollen tends to start in the early spring, grass pollen is most common in the summer and ragweed starts pollenating in the early fall.
According to the CDC, climate change is contributing to pollen seasons starting earlier and lasting longer. Pollen concentrations are also trending higher, which is why if you feel your allergies have gotten worse in recent years, you’re probably right.
How Allergies Are Diagnosed
It’s important to know what you’re allergic to in order to know what allergens to avoid. The way to find out is with an allergy test.
Skin tests are used to diagnose seasonal allergies. There are two types of skin test: a skin prick test, which involves placing a drop of an allergen extract on the skin and pricking the skin underneath, and an intradermal test, where a small amount of a diluted allergen is injected into the top layer of the skin. If a raised bump known as a wheal appears, it means you tested positive for that particular allergen.
How to Manage Allergies
You can manage your allergy symptoms by avoiding triggering allergens, taking over-the-counter medications like antihistamine and starting immunotherapy. Talk to your allergist about the best option for you.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the allergy experts at Pinnacle ENT Associates today!