Tis the season to be jolly! Spring, summer, and fall is a time of change, a time to purchase a new wardrobe, plant a garden, or just get out of the house to enjoy the magnificent weather. Most of us love this time of the year, with colorful flowers blooming, the sounds of chirping birds, and the sight and smell of fresh cut green grass. For others, though, it is not so pleasant, as it brings on seasonal allergies, often involving stuffy noses and itchy eyes.
As the seasons change, especially in the spring and fall, seasonal allergies are in full effect, and put a damper on the beauty of the sun shining and flowers blooming. 35 million Americans suffer from allergies year-round, which often brings them into their allergist with teary, swollen and itchy eyes, with the sniffles and stuffy noses. Seasonal allergies can be very debilitating, hindering day-to-day activities, often causing congestion, drowsiness, and fatigue, due to the high pollen counts in the air.
Simply put, an allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to certain substances that are considered foreign to our bodies. In other words, this allergic reaction, or allergies are caused when allergens such as pollen or dust enters the body, and the immune system classifies it as a foreign substance, and aims to remove it from the body, causing the IgA allergy-specific antibodies called immunoglobulins, to overact. Thus, this reaction causes symptoms of itching, inflammation of the skin and eyes, and often breathing and respiratory issues.
Other symptoms of seasonal allergies include:
- Weakened immune system
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of concentration
- Runny or itchy nose
- Sore throat
- Ear infections
- Nasal congestion
- Impaired sense of smell and taste
- General feeling of being unwell (Similar to a cold but without the fever)
- Eye irritation
- Facial pressure or pain
- Muscle aches and pains
Did you know that the liver plays a substantial role in reducing the effect a potential allergen will have on the body? Our liver purifies and filters about two quarts of blood per minute, extracting most viruses, bacteria, environmental toxins, before recirculating healthy blood through the rest of the body. Seasonal allergies happen as a result of an overloaded toxic state within the liver.
The liver has multiple functions for the body, and is responsible for processing everything we come in contact with. If the quantity of a substance entering the bloodstream is too much for the liver to process, the immune system becomes overstimulated, and recognizes it as being an allergen. The liver then produces and stores allergy-specific antibodies called immunoglobulins. These antibodies set off a reaction, and the release of too many inflammatory chemicals or hormones called histamines causes an allergic reaction, with a host of physical symptoms.
Now that you know the cause of seasonal allergies, here are some things you may not know:
- Antihistamines are your best friend: During allergy season, make antihistamines your best friend. As the name sounds, antihistamines are there to block the histamine before it takes effect, causing an allergic reaction. Research shows that it is more effective to try to prevent allergy symptoms than to try to eliminate them. Histamine is a chemical released to try and protect the immune system, but by the time the person has already had an allergic reaction, with symptoms such as nasal congestion, itching and sneezing, histamines are already present. Therefore, allergists recommend taking antihistamines before you know the time when your allergy symptoms appear. While antihistamines do help with symptoms of sneezing and itchiness, they usually don’t help with nasal stuffiness. Relieve your stuffiness with a nasal steroid spray along with the antihistamines.
- Allergy shots are not considered the only long-term solution: Allergy shots or immunotherapy used to be the only successful long-term solution, but then sublingual tablets were introduced. These tablets dissolve under your tongue, and should be taken once-a-day before and during allergy season. These tablets aim to desensitize your body to specific allergens by introducing them into your body in tiny amounts, and over time, your immune system builds up a tolerance to protect your body from these allergens, thus preventing symptoms. Taking the tablets is now considered more convenient than having to go to a doctor for weekly or monthly allergy shots. However, allergy shots are still a good option as well.
- What you are allergic to can change over time: What you are allergic to can always change over time. Receiving allergy shots can make you develop immunity to a particular allergen that you were allergic to before. Allergies don’t disappear, but your body is always reacting differently depending on the environment you are in. Always get checked out by your allergist.
- Allergies can cause asthma: Allergies are commonly linked to asthma, which many people don’t know. During allergy season, people are diagnosed with allergic asthma, and are often treated with steroid inhalers. Conversely, those with asthma will experience symptom flare-ups if allergies are not kept in check.
It’s time to put the misery of allergies behind you. Schedule an appointment with Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Associates of Tampa at one of our convenient Tampa Bay locations today, by calling (813) 971-9743, or use our online appointment request form.