Health & Wellness

Houston Springtime Without the Sniffles

For allergy sufferers in Houston, spring pollen can trigger symptoms like sneezing, sniffling, and stuffy noses. According to a 2016 study conducted by The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Houston ranked as the 49th most challenging place to live with spring allergies. During the spring, certain trees, grasses, and weeds release powdery granules of pollen to fertilize other plants of the same species.

The most common spring pollens in Houston include:

  • Tree pollen, such as oak, cedar, juniper, pine, elm, and ash

  • Grass pollen, such as Timothy, Bermuda, Bahia, orchard, sweet vernal, red top, and some blue grasses

  • Weed pollen, such as ragweed

When people with seasonal allergies breathe in pollen-heavy air, they experience the symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Talk About an Overreaction

A seasonal allergy occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to a foreign substance, like pollen or mold, that only occurs during certain times of the year. Though the substance is not harmful, the immune system mistakenly identifies the allergen as a dangerous invader and produces antibodies to respond to it. This causes an allergic reaction and symptoms, such as sneezing, wheezing, a stuffy nose, itchy throat, watery eyes, and other symptoms.

How to Stop Sneezing

Seasonal allergies can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status. Use the following tips to prevent allergic reactions and reduce symptoms:

  • Check Houston’s Daily Mold and Spore Report to monitor pollen levels

  • If possible, stay indoors on windy days when pollen counts are high

  • Wear an allergy face mask while gardening, lawn mowing, and engaging in other outdoor tasks

  • After being outside, wash your clothes and take a shower to rinse pollen from your body and hair

  • Avoid hanging clothing or bedding outside to dry

  • Keep the windows closed and use an air conditioner with a HEPA filter attachment

  • Keep the car windows up while commuting

In addition to limiting outdoor exposure to allergens, over-the-counter allergy medications, such as oral antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal spray, can also help reduce your immune system reactions.

If allergen-avoidance strategies and nonprescription medications don’t ease your symptoms, schedule an appointment online to see an ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) doctor at one of our Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Groups.

 

Sources:

AAFA Allergy Capitals of 2016
Allergy Overview

Allergens: Pollen

Treatment for Allergy   

Allergies and the Immune System

Houston Health Department - Daily Pollen and Mold Spore Report

Baylor College of Medicine - Treat yourself to allergy-free spring

BCM - Mild winter may mean early allergy season

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