Did you know that allergies can surface at any point in a person's lifetime, even if you've never dealt with them before? If you are already being treated for other chronic conditions, seasonal allergies (also known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever) can be debilitating. Luckily, there are ways to keep it at bay.
The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) says allergic rhinitis occurs when your immune system identifies an allergen as an intruder and responds to it by releasing histamines. Those histamines cause the unpleasant symptoms, such as sneezing, wheezing and itchy eyes. While allergic rhinitis can be triggered by mold, pet dander and dust mite droppings, pollen is the most common allergen for seasonal allergy sufferers.
"Pollen typically starts affecting allergy sufferers in the spring and summer," said Dennis E. Rademaker, DO, a Franciscan Physician Network allergist in Munster, Indiana. "There are different types of pollen, and it can affect each person differently, depending on the type of tree or grass from which it came."
Plants that have powdery granules of pollen that are easily blown by the wind can trigger pollen allergies. These include:
Trees: oak, western red cedar, elm, birch, ash, hickory, poplar, sycamore, maple, cypress, walnut, catalpa, olive and pecan
Grasses: Timothy, Johnson, Bermuda, orchard, sweet vernal, red top and some blue grasses
Weeds: ragweed, sagebrush, pigweed, tumbleweed, Russian thistle and cockle weed
Each plant has a pollen season. "Pollen season" often starts in the spring. But it may begin as early as January in the southern part of the U.S. The season often lasts until November. Different parts of the country have different pollinating plants and different pollen seasons.
The Indianapolis and Chicago areas are about average when it comes to pollen, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
There are several ways to manage seasonal allergies, including: