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Common Spring Allergies: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention, Cure

Allergic Rhinitis is caused by allergens in a person’s surroundings, these allergens cause an allergic reaction in a person. There are two types of allergic rhinitis, seasonal and perennial. Seasonal rhinitis is caused by the change in seasons and lasts till the said season. Perennial Rhinitis is an all year round allergic reaction caused by allergens present in the environment all year round. It is, however, interesting to note that only a fraction of the population namely, 20%-30% are negatively affected by these allergens. This implies that 20%-30% people have immune systems that are hypersensitive to otherwise harmless agents. The most common symptoms of an allergic reaction are a runny nose, red eyes, itchiness, dry skin, hives and so on.

Common Spring Allergies: Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and CureCommon Spring Allergies: A History:

It is widely believed that allergies are a 20th-century problem, while the nomenclature and understanding of allergies as a separate issue have emerged post the 1900s, references to allergies have been found throughout history. The first instance of understanding and relieving an allergic reaction is found China. In 2700 BC the Father of Chinese Herbal Medicine, Shen Nong discovered that Ma Huang (Ephedra) can be used to relieve congestion.

However, modern medicine considers that the first accurate description of the problem was put forth by a 10th-century physician, Rhazes. He argued that coryza was caused by roses, leading to the coining of the term Rose Fever. In 1827, The Times first used the term “Hay Fever”, basing their arguments on John Bostock’s work, a Doctor and sufferer of seasonal rhinitis, who was convinced that his afflictions were caused by the smell of hay. The term and its understanding spread like wildfire, however, in 1859, Charles Blackley had an allergic reaction to flowers, and he argued that allergic reactions were caused by Pollen.

In 1906, Clemens Von Pirquet determined the mechanics of seasonal allergies and along with Béla Schick coined the term Allergy, by merging two Greek words, allos meaning other and ergon meaning reaction.

Causes and Symptoms of Common Spring Allergies:

Allergic Rhinitis is triggered by allergens in the environment. These allergies can either be inherited or exposure to the environment. Bodies of individuals with hypersensitive immune systems release IgE (Immunoglobulin E) which is especially critical in recognizing and fighting with allergens. IgE antibodies attack the allergens in the host’s body, causing the release of inflammatory chemicals like histamine from mast cells. The most common causes of Common Spring Allergies are:

  • Tree Pollen: Unlike popular belief, flower pollen is carried out bees, however, tree pollen is a free agent in the air. Being exposed to tree pollen cause serious allergic reactions within minutes.
  • Dust: Dust is a perennial allergen. Individuals suffering from dust allergies must always live in dust-free environments.
  • Pet Hair: Animals shed a lot of their hair in the environment they live in. Pet hair is a perennial allergen too.
  • Mold: Mold is a perennial allergen. Mold like yeast and mildew, release spores in the air, causing serious allergic reactions among individuals.

Individuals suffering from Allergic Rhinitis, display a series of symptoms, which can also be confused with common cold. Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Itchy/ Watery Eyes
  • Eczema like symptoms, with dry and itchy skin which blisters easily and sometimes may weep
  • Hives
  • Runny/Blocked Nose
  • Coughing/Sneezing
  • Scratchy Throat/Throat Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent Headaches
  • Allergic Conjunctivitis

Diagnosis for Allergies :

It is very difficult to diagnose allergic rhinitis because unlike other allergies where the person may suffer from swelling limbs or go into anaphylactic shock within seconds of ingesting an antigen, the symptoms of allergic rhinitis are ambiguous. However, there are certain ways by which allergic rhinitis could be diagnosed, namely, RAST blood tests, Skin Poke Test and Intradermal Test.

Skin Tests are the most commonly used tests for determining an allergic reaction. Intradermal tests are more sensitive than the skin poke tests and are used to determine allergies for patients who do not display symptoms to a particular antigen. Blood tests may reveal the sensitivity of the body to a particular allergen. Sometimes, the individual reacts to a local allergen, this kind of allergy is known as local allergic rhinitis, such an individual may test negative for all known tests for allergies and still suffer from an allergic reaction. Thus, it is necessary to carry out specialized tests for determining the kind of allergens a person’s body is reacting against.

Complications Caused by Common Spring Allergies:

The common myth around seasonal allergic rhinitis is that it disappears in a few days without having any major setback on the body, this, however, is completely untrue. Allergic Rhinitis may aggravate existing health issues, it can have damaging effects on the body. Some of the most common health complications caused by common spring allergies are:

1. Nasal Polyps:

Nasal Polyps is the swelling of the nasal walls/ sinuses. Nasal polyps generally affect both the nostrils on inflammation. Once they are swollen either in clusters or individually, they can reduce the sense of smell, block the nose and are the leading reason for infecting the sinuses.

2. Sinusitis:

Sinuses naturally make mucus, which then flows into our nostrils, but when sinuses are blocked, as in the case of nasal polyps, the mucus can’t drain away. When this happens, mucus flows elsewhere, inflaming/infecting the sinuses. Mucus may flow upwards and get stuck near the eyes, causing pain around the eyes. The mucus could flow through the nose and drip down the flow, creating a sensation of a thick liquid flowing through one’s throat. Infected Sinuses may restrict breathing, cause the sensation of pressure on the face, affect smell.

3. Sleeplessness/Sleep Apnea:

The obstruction of nostrils could cause extreme discomfort among the individuals, leading to either sleeplessness or the development of sleep apnoea, where airways are temporarily blocked, leading to a drop in the oxygen to the brain. Long-term effects of sleep apnoea include obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Recent studies also link sleep apnea to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

4. Aggravating Asthma:

Asthma patients are susceptible to suffering from allergic rhinitis and allergic rhinitis is known to worsening the symptoms of asthma. The blockage of airways may put an added strain on asthma patients.

5. Ear Infections:

Ear infections develop as a result of nose infections, particularly during allergic rhinitis. These ear infections could lead to the formation of fluids behind the eardrums, which can be infected. Such infections cause severe ear pain, itchiness in the ear, fever, slight loss in hearing, lethargy, the sensation of wetness in the ear, and in some extreme cases it may cause episodes of loss of balance.

Myths About Common Spring Allergies:

Myths About Common Spring Allergies are one of the most common yet less talked about health issues among the people. The rise of several kinds of allergies has led everyone to believe that we as a society know everything that there is to know about allergies. There is, however, a clear distinction between food-related allergies and allergic rhinitis. Here are some myths that people believe in:

1. Allergies cannot be Developed in Adulthood:

The most common myth about allergic rhinitis is that these cannot be developed in adulthood. Our bodies come in contact with external sources at all times and can develop an allergy to any of them over time. The reverse of it is also true, some childhood allergies may gradually disappear during adulthood.

2. Moving to a different Geographical Location could Ease Seasonal Allergy:

Moving to any different geographical location may not help an individual who suffers from dust allergy or from pollen allergy.

3. Flowers Trigger Allergies:

Flower pollen is actually heavy and tends to fall on the ground, instead of floating around in the air. However, tree pollen is lighter and tends to keep on floating in our surroundings for a long time, leading to pollen allergy.

4. Allergy Medication should be taken only when one Feels Terrible:

The fact remains that allergy is an inflammatory reaction to an allergen. Allergy medications work well if taken before the outbreak of the allergy. Taking allergy medication regularly during the allergy season helps boost the immune system to fight symptoms effectively.

5. Taking Allergy Medicines Regularly Develops a Tolerance for Allergy Medicine:

This myth develops from the theory that taking antibiotics develops a resistance to antibiotics in the body. However, the same does not apply to allergy medication, the intensity of allergic reactions may differ for the same individual in different situations. When the symptoms are mild, the allergy medication seems to be working better, but when a person’s allergies have worsened the same medicines work slower, making the individual believe that they have developed a tolerance.

6. Allergic Reaction to one thing means that the Individual would ‘Only’ be Allergic to that one thing:

An individual could suffer from cross allergies. A person who is allergic to pollen may also be allergic to dust or other plants, even foods. Allergies can be developed at any stage and any moment.

Home Remedies to Prevent and Control Allergic Rhinitis

Ancient Indians passed down the wisdom of dealing with several illnesses in the elements they used in their food. Indian cuisine is not just about the spicy curry, if cooked correctly the curry has trace amounts of several healthy elements which help fight different diseases. Here are some remedies extracted from the knowledge passed down and residing in Indian kitchens:

1. Onion and Garlic:

The most common household items, onion, and garlic are found in every corner of the country. Our culture practices consuming onion and garlic in different forms. If one took the trouble of remembering, our grandparents would consume raw onion and garlic, arguing that they helped fight with cold. In reality, onion and garlic are rich in quercetin which acts like an antihistamine and helps fight allergies and the onset of allergic reactions.

2. Ginger:

The oldest remedy in the book for a runny nose and scratchy throat is raw ginger with honey or hot ginger tea. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, which helps control inflammation caused due to an allergic reaction.

3. Cloves:

Cloves have also been a household favorite to deal with a scratchy throat. Individuals suffering from scratchy throat are asked to keep sucking on a clove to soothe down their throat. Clove also has an anti-inflammatory chemical called Eugenol, clove oil also exhibits numbing properties.

4. Turmeric:

Turmeric, an everyday necessity in the Indian household contains a chemical called curcumin. Curcumin acts as a decongestant, helps in fighting off allergy symptoms, and prevent and control cold. Hot turmeric milk (or turmeric latte in popular culture) is a household favorite in dealing with cold and fever.

5. Citrus Fruits:

Orange and Grapefruit are rich in Vitamin C, which helps fight several allergy symptoms.

6. Chocolate:

We now have more reasons to fall in love with chocolate. In 2012, Pharmacological Research published a study which proved that cacao helps in reducing the synthesis of IgE, giving cacao and its products anti-allergy properties.

Medicines That Can Help in Dealing with Allergic Rhinitis:

Modern medicine has come a long way in dealing with allergies since its categorization in the 1800s. There are several medicines that a person may access, to ease their allergic reactions. Safeguards against allergies do not often work and thus, allergies cannot be prevented from happening. However, it is strongly advised these medicines be accessed only after diagnosis and appropriate prescription by a doctor. However, here are some common things that doctors prescribe to deal with allergies:

1. Anti-Allergy Medicines:

There are several anti-allergy medicines with various dosages available in the market. Instead of using a trial and error method, it is better to consult a doctor for the dosage one would be best suited to.

2. Mentholated Ointments:

Mentholated ointments are the safest and most effective ointments out there. Applied liberally on the nose and forehead, they help ease sinusitis induced headaches as well as clear the airways.

3. Inhaling Steam:

Most doctors would suggest inhaling steam as a good way of clearing the airway, as well as releasing pressure created on the face due to sinus. Moist air helps liquefy the frozen mucus, even aids the mucus movement. Addition of mentholated ointment in the steam vessel helps clear out blocked nose faster.

4. Nasal Sprays:

Nasal sprays are extremely popular for the immediate release of a blocked nose but if taken experimentally or more than the prescribed dosage, could prove to be harmful. Nasal sprays are meant to be used for a short amount of time and taken in measured dosage, uninhibited use of nasal sprays leads to harmful addiction.

6. Immunotherapy/Allergy Shots:

This therapy is a long-term process, where trace amounts of allergens are introduced into the individual’s body to help build a resistance to the allergy.

7. Sublingual Immunotherapy:

This therapy works the same way as the allergy shots, but here trace amounts of allergen are placed in a pill, which an individual can keep on his/her tongue and let it dissolve slowly. It is a hassle-free way of developing resistance over a long period.

Allergic Rhinitis may be seasonal or perennial and may not seem as threatening as other allergies like food but there is no denying that the long-term effects of allergic rhinitis are more harmful. The very fact that allergic rhinitis cannot be completely eradicated or prevented makes it a dangerous adversary of the human body. Individuals susceptible to spring allergies must have a healthy lifestyle throughout the year to ensure the seasonal sickness does not set them back greatly. However, in India, allergic rhinitis is still not seen as a serious threat to one’s health. It, however, would be a good practice to consult a doctor at the onset of the allergy season and understand one’s reaction to allergens.

News Related to Spring Allergies:

1. Climate Change is Worsening Allergies

– 30th July 2018

While some newly elected governments of the world are busy denying climate change and the possible threat it could pose to life on Earth, global warming has already started harming human life. It is a very non-intrusive, silent attack that this climate change is carrying out on our bodies as well as in the environment around us. The year 2018 has seen a spike in the rise of cases of allergies, there have also been some curious cases of long term allergic reactions, and seasonal allergic reactions much before the stipulated seasonal change. Biologists who have been studying the change of seasons and its impact on plant life claim that global warming is slowly and gradually changing the advent of seasons, their duration, as well as, their intensity.

Increasing temperatures means early spring, a large amount of carbon dioxide means that more female flowers are releasing more pollen. Also, the greenhouse effect means that warmer air is trapping more moisture, which means an increase in the formation of fungi and molds in households, leading to more instances of allergic reactions which are taking longer to subside. These long term allergic reactions are giving rise to more respiratory diseases, including a rise in asthma symptoms.

2. Did you Know: Pets Can Have Allergies Too:

– 7th March 2018

Allergy season is upon us and renowned veterinarians in America believe that while we are coughing and sneezing from allergies, our pets are suffering too. According to a news report published on ABC Action News in 2018, pets are affected by allergies and show similar symptoms like sneezing. The most common allergies in pets are caused by flea bites, as the fleas leave behind allergens in the bite. However, dogs are also affected by animal dander, dust, tree pollen and molds.

Allergies do not only make pets sneeze but also act out on their skin making them lick their skin, rub their faces and scratch themselves, causing more damage to themselves. The only way to protect one’s pets from allergies is to wipe them with a non-scented baby wipe their bellies, paws and faces with unscented baby wipes, after they have returned from a walk. Wiping becomes essential for pets that spend a lot of time sniffing grass or other shrubs, this helps in wiping out the allergens. Other treatments include allergy vaccination for pets, antihistamines for pets, air filters, and bathing.

3. Demand for Decongestants to Rise Steadily from 2018 Onwards:

– 2nd March 2018

Transparency Market Research recently released a report on the decongestants demand and market potential. According to the global report, demand for decongestants will rise steadily from 2018. Their predictions have been for the test period of 2016-2024 but they claim that this rise in demand is heavily influenced from South Asia, especially China and India. The report further states, this sudden spike in demand for decongestants from India and China can be attributed to the rise in earning capacity and access to better healthcare, as well as, the rise in the elderly population who may require assistance, especially during seasonal change.
Other major demand centres for decongestants are North America and Western Europe. A major spike in demand for decongestants in North America, Western Europe and Asia-Pacific, is projected to be during seasonal change when people suffer from hay fever, rose fever, sinusitis and so on.

Decongestants are medicines designed to relieve the pressure on the face and head caused because of the blocked nose by clearing the airways.

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