Spring allergies occur when trees bloom and release pollen into the air, causing many people to develop allergic rhinitis. Affecting many people from the start of February to mid-June, tree pollen effects vary geographically depending on a region’s weather, drought patterns, and tree species. Common culprits include birch, beech, ash, cedar, oak, and cottonwood.
In Texas, cedar fever is caused by the ash juniper tree and is active from December to March. Rising temperatures have lengthened pollen season recently, and pollen counts are predicted to double by 2040.
Pollen causes the release of histamines and other allergy-causing objects from immune cells called mast cells. Mast cells are located in the nasal and respiratory linings as well as in sinuses, throats, and eyes. Typical symptoms are:
- Postnasal drip
- Sinus headaches
- Sinus Pressure
- Red itchy watery eyes
- Scratchy throat
Also, allergic inflammation leads to swelling and the growth of the nasal concha, a shell-shaped network of bones, vessels, and tissue within the nasal passageways. If swelling and growth of the nasal concha were to occur, it could also lead to a loss of taste and smell.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America in 2018, up to 20 million Americans were diagnosed with having allergic rhinitis, better known as hay fever.
Tree pollen can also cause asthma attacks when the inflammatory objects from mast cells cause inflammation in the airway, bronchial hypersensitivity, and trouble breathing.
Family history plays an important role to your susceptibility to allergies. If your parents have allergies, it’s likely that you do, too.
Is it a Cold or Allergy
Colds and allergies can have similar symptoms. A cold can be different from an allergy in the timing and duration of symptoms. Colds last 7-10 days. If you have symptoms beyond this, or if symptoms happen on a recurring basis, it’s more likely you have allergies.
Leaving allergies untreated can be uncomfortable and can also result in complications. Allergic rhinitis, if not adequately treated, can lead to chronic or acute sinusitis which occurs when the swollen nasal conchae block the openings of the sinuses, causing ear infections, and sleeping problems, among other symptoms.
How Can I Get Relief?
First, prevention is always recommended. On days with high pollen counts stay indoors, keep windows closed in the mornings when pollen counts are highest, and drive with the car’s recirculation mode on to limit any pollen getting inside your car.
There are many over the counter treatments available for allergy sufferers. Anti-histamines such as fexofenadine and loratadine are non-drowsy pills that you can take to control symptoms. Also, over the counter nasal corticosteroid sprays can help control nasal as well as vision problems. Irrigating your sinuses with salt water can improves sinus drainage and offers relief.
Allergy shots are also an option for some patients. Patients who choose this option receive increasingly concentrated doses of allergens which help build their immunity so allergic symptoms don’t get out of control when they’re exposed to allergens in the environment. The course of allergy shots usually takes 3-5 years.
Want more information about allergies, or concerned about any symptoms you may be experiencing? It is important to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shuaib today by calling (956) 362-8125.. Seek a clear path towards discovery today!