“Pollen is the biggest trigger for spring allergies. These tiny grains are released into the air to fertilize other plants. But when pollen grains get into the nose of someone who is allergic, their immune system kicks into overdrive,” says Johnson Coyle, MD, lead physician, Spirit Urgent Care–Carlisle.
Your immune system sees pollen as a foreign invader and releases antibodies. “When antibodies attack allergens, chemicals called histamines get released into your blood. Histamines are what trigger your runny nose, itchy and watery eyes and other allergy symptoms,” Dr. Coyle explains.
There are some things you can do to lessen your symptoms. “You can start taking an over-the-counter antihistamine to reduce the release of histamine in your body,” Dr. Coyle says. Prescription nasal steroid sprays work similarly to prevent allergic symptoms. You can also try an oral decongestant such as pseudoephedrine, which can help reduce nasal congestion and swelling. “A saline sinus rinse or spray can be used to clean the pollen out of your nasal passages one to two times a day,” Dr. Coyle says. Nasal saline spray can help ease congestion and clear out clogged nasal passages faster than oral decongestants.
Limiting your time outside can help reduce your symptoms. “If you’re outside you can pick up pollen in your hair, on your face and on your clothes. And it is worse if it’s windy – wind stirs the pollen around,” explains Dr. Coyle. Don’t forget Fido is a pollen carrier, too.
“After you’ve been outside, you should change your clothes, rinse your nose with saline, and take a shower to get rid of as much pollen as possible,” Dr. Coyle says.
“When pollen counts are high, shut your windows and use your air conditioner instead. Doing this will ensure there is very little pollen in your home,” Dr. Coyle says. Be sure to regularly change air filters in your home as well.
If your preventive measures fail, consult your primary care provider or an urgent care facility. Sprit Urgent Care–Carlisle, 1211 Forge Road, Carlisle, is open daily from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Sprit Urgent Care–Camp Hill, 431 North 21st Street, next to Holy Spirit Hospital, is open daily from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. For more information, visit www.hsh.org.