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    How to Handle Your Spring Allergies

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    Spring is beautiful, but it's also a key time of year for seasonal allergies. As plants release pollen, millions of people with hay fever start to sniffle and sneeze.

    There's no cure but you can take steps to curb springtime allergies, from medication to household habits.

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    Causes

    The biggest spring allergy trigger is pollen. Trees, grasses, and weeds release these tiny grains into the air to fertilize other plants. When they get into the nose of someone who’s allergic, they send the body's defenses haywire.

    The immune system mistakenly sees the pollen as a danger and releases antibodies that attack the allergens. That leads to the release of chemicals called histamines into the blood. Histamines trigger the runny nose, itchy eyes, and other symptoms that are all too familiar if you have allergies.

    Pollen can travel for miles, so it’s not just about the plants in your neighborhood.

    Triggers include:

    Trees

    • Alder
    • Ash
    • Aspen
    • Beech
    • Box elder
    • Cedar
    • Cottonwood
    • Cypress
    • Elm
    • Hickory
    • Juniper
    • Maple
    • Mulberry
    • Oak
    • Olive
    • Palm
    • Pine
    • Poplar
    • Sycamore
    • Willow

    Grasses and weeds:

    • Bermuda
    • Fescue
    • Johnson
    • June
    • Orchard
    • Perennial rye
    • Redtop
    • Saltgrass
    • Sweet vernal
    • Timothy

    Pollen counts tend to be particularly high on breezy days when the wind picks up these sneeze-inducing grains and carries them through the air. Rainy days, on the other hand, wash away the allergens.

    Symptoms

    You may have:

    Diagnosis

    Start with your regular doctor. She may refer you to an allergist for tests.

    The allergy specialist may give you a skin test, which involves either a pricking the surface of the skin with a tiny amount of allergen (prick test), or injecting a tiny sample of a diluted allergen under the skin of your arm or back. If you’re allergic to the substance, a small red bump (called a wheal or hive) will form. Sometimes, you may get a blood test.

    Over-the-Counter and Prescription Allergy Treatments

    There are many medicines that can ease the symptoms of allergies. They include:

    Antihistamines reduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching by lowering the amount of histamine in your body.

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