Need some allergy relief? If you have allergies, you know that you can run,
but you can't hide from seasonal pollen.
With the first deep breath of spring, more than 50 million Americans begin
their nearly year-round symptoms of sneezing, wheezing, coughing, snorting, and
itching. And millions of allergy sufferers seek allergy relief in prescription
medications that cost $6 billion dollars per year worldwide.
If you find yourself developing a killer headache when riding an elevator
with someone who was a bit generous dabbing on the perfume, you have company.
More than 2 million Americans have fragrance allergies or sensitivities -- and
the number is on the rise.
Although that person's perfume may have been all too obvious a culprit,
there are many hidden sources of fragrances, says Clifford W. Bassett, MD,
medical director of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York. Bassett helped
WebMD sniff out...
Let's be honest. If the miserable symptoms of pollen allergies don't push
you over the edge, some allergy relief medicines can. Sure, some older
allergy relief medicines ease your symptoms, but they can also leave you
feeling sluggish, sleepy, and unable to concentrate at work or school.
So how can something as miniscule as pollen make you feel absolutely awful?
And where do you turn for effective allergy relief when you're plagued by weeks
of impenetrable pollen?
What Is Pollen Anyway?
To know what you're up against, it's important to know something about
pollen. Pollen, the microscopic powdery granules of flowering plants, is the
mechanism for the fertilization of trees, grasses, and weeds.
While pollen from plants with bright flowers like roses rarely trigger
allergy symptoms, the tiny, dry pollens from grasses, trees, and weeds are the
main allergy culprits. Even though your yard may have no true pollen offenders,
pollen particulates blow in the wind. For example, one ragweed plant can
produce up to 1 billion pollen grains, and each grain can travel more than 100
miles from its source.
Every plant has a specific period of pollination. Although weather changes
can determine the pollen count in the air, the pollinating season stays
constant with trees pollinating first during springtime, grasses pollinating
from late spring to midsummer, and then weeds pollinating in late summer and
Need Allergy Relief When Pollen Counts Are High?
The best way to get allergy relief is to take allergy medicines on a regular
basis and start before pollen season hits, says William E. Berger, MD, MBA,
professor of medicine at the University of California, Irvine. Berger is
past president of the American College of Allergy and Immunology and author of
Allergies and Asthma for Dummies.
In the body, histamines are chemicals that can cause swelling, sneezing,
itching and a runny drippy nose or postnasal drip (mucus down the back of your
throat). Antihistamines (allergy relief medicines) are effective in
treating some of the allergy symptoms caused by histamines.
Berger tells WebMD that the goal is to prevent allergy symptoms from
occurring. "Taking allergy medicines (antihistamines) regularly blocks the
histamine receptors -- the tissues that cause swelling. Histamine works by
attaching itself to these receptors on the surface of cells. If you block the
site where histamine works by pre-treating with allergy medicines, you prevent
the allergic reaction and the allergy symptoms."