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    Frequently Asked Questions About Allergies

    • What Types of Plants Give Off the Most Allergy-Causing Pollen?
    • Answer:

      Trees, grasses, and weeds that usually don’t bear fruit or flowers are the ones to avoid. They make lots of small, light, dry pollen granules that can be carried through the air for miles.

      Common plant allergens include:

      Weeds, such as ragweed, sagebrush, redroot pigweed, lamb's quarters, goosefoot, tumbleweed (Russian thistle), and English plantain.

      Grasses, such as timothy grass, Kentucky blue grass, Johnson grass, Bermuda grass, redtop grass, orchard grass, sweet vernal grass, perennial rye, salt grass, velvet grass, and fescue.

      Hardwood deciduous trees, like oak, ash, elm, birch, maple, alder, and hazel, as well as hickory, pecan, box, and mountain cedar. Juniper, cedar, cypress, and sequoia trees are also likely culprits.

    • What Is a Pollen Count?
    • Answer:

      It’s a measure of the amount of the sneezy stuff that's in the air. Local weather reports often include the count. You’ll probably hear it for mold spores and three types of pollen:

      • Grasses
      • Trees
      • Weeds

      The count is reported as grains of pollen per square meter, collected over 24 hours. It’s then given a level: absent, low, medium, or high.

      In general, "low" means that only people who are extremely sensitive to pollen will get symptoms. “Medium” means many people who are relatively sensitive to it will have symptoms, and "high" means most people with any sensitivity will have a sneezy, teary time outside.

      The pollen count is useful when you’re trying to decide if you should stay indoors.

    • Should I Consider Moving to Have Fewer Symptoms?
    • Answer:

      No. That won't help "cure" allergies. Most people who relocate to help their symptoms find that they eventually get allergies to plant pollens in the new area.

    • How Can I Tell Whether My Child Has Allergies or a Common Cold?
    • Answer:

      Both problems cause things like:

      You do have some ways to tell the difference, though:

      When the symptoms happen: Colds often cause symptoms one at a time: first sneezing, then a runny nose, and then congestion. Allergy symptoms tend to happen all at once.

      How long they last:  Cold symptoms generally last from 7 to 10 days. Allergy symptoms last as long as you're exposed to whatever triggered them, but they may ease up soon after you get away from the allergen.

      Sneezing: The ah-choos are a more common with allergies, especially when you reel off two or three in a row.

      Time of year: Colds are more common in winter. Allergies usually happen from spring through fall, when plants are pollinating.

      Fever: You may have one with a cold, but allergies generally don’t come with a fever.

    • What Does It Mean When a Product Is Labeled 'Hypoallergenic'?
    • Answer:

      "Hypo" means "under" or "less than," so "hypoallergenic" means a product is less likely to trigger an allergic reaction.

      Many everyday products, like cleansers and soaps, deodorants, makeup, and mouthwash, have ingredients that trigger allergies. If you have a reaction, you may hear it called contact dermatitis. Your skin will get red and itchy, and it may swell. You might also get a rash or blisters.

      Many companies market their products as "hypoallergenic." But they aren’t required to prove it. What’s more, there aren’t regulations or standards for manufacturers to follow.

      No product can guarantee never to irritate the skin or set off an allergic reaction. Test any new product before you use it, especially if you've had skin reactions before. To test it, put a sample of it on your inner wrist or elbow, and wait 24 hours to see if you have symptoms in that area.

    • Can Allergies Be Cured?
    • Answer:

      No, but the symptoms can be treated and controlled. You may have to change your environment or habits. Medication also may help relieve the symptoms.

      Even with treatment, you may still react to the allergens. In some cases, children may outgrow their allergies, particularly those to food.

      Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, is not a cure. It can lessen symptoms, though.

    • How Does Stress Affect Allergies?
    • Answer:

      It doesn’t cause allergies. It can make an existing reaction worse by boosting how much histamine your body makes. That's a chemical that leads to allergy symptoms.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on May 02, 2016

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