From the cheerful red geraniums adorning my neighbor’s patio to the symphony of color popping up along the freeway…spring has arrived in the southland in an explosion of buds and blooms. That’s the good news.
The bad news? For many of us, springtime means seasonal allergies. But is it really those poor little petunias, poppies and pansies causing my eyes to water and itch? Are daffodils, daisies and dandelions to blame for my incessant sneezing? I wanted to know so did a little research that helped separate fact from fiction when it comes to allergies.
What a surprise to learn a lot of what I believed about allergies wasn’t true! Check this out and find out what’s really making you sneeze this spring!
1. Desert Climates Cure Allergies
MYTH. Changing climates can affect your reaction to allergy-triggering substances called allergens – but only to a limited extent. Some Easter and Midwestern plants are rare out west, but grass and ragweed pollens are found nearly everywhere. Besides, once you move, you may simply start reacting to different allergens.
2. Flowers Commonly Trigger Allergies
MYTH. Some florists with prolonged exposure to flowers can have allergy symptoms. But very few people are allergic to a bouquet of beautiful blossoms. (Yay!) The culprit is usually the pollen produced by trees, grasses and weeds (and yes, occasionally flowers) picked up by breezes and carried through the air.
3. There’s No Pollen at the Beach
MYTH. (Surprise to me!) Beaches generally have lower pollen counts. However, grasses are common near beaches, and ragweed pollen can be found as far as 400 miles out to sea! Also, even a short drive or walk from the sand will expose you to the region’s pollen-emitting plant life.
4. Pollen Counts Can Predict Bad Days
FACT. Pollen counts determine how many grains of pollen were measured in a specific amount of air over a specific amount of time. You can use the daily pollen count as a tool for minimizing allergen exposure.
5. You Will Outgrown Your Allergies
MYTH. Some children do outgrow certain allergies. But very few outgrow hay fever. A study in Sweden tracked 82 patients with allergic rhinitis. The patients reported 99 percent still suffered from the allergy 12 years later, although 39 percent reported improvement.
6. Rain Washes Away Pollen
FACT. The best day for allergy sufferers to go outdoors are those immediately following heavy rains. Pollen levels can be affected by temperature, time of day, humidity and rain. Pollen counts run lowest on chilly, soggy days and highest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., especially on hot, dry, windy days.
7. Mold Allergies Strike Only Indoors
MYTH. Mold spores are fungi and can be found almost anywhere. They grow on soil, decaying leaves and rotting wood – especially in damp weather. You’re most likely to have an allergic reaction to mold in the summer. Most outdoor molds aren’t active during the winter.
8. Hay Fever Comes From Hay
MYTH. Hay fever isn’t a fever and it doesn’t come from hay! (Sure taught this Iowa girl a thing or two!) Hay fever or allergic rhinitis is caused by tree, grass and weed pollens, as well as mold spores. If you have allergies, you may be more likely to suffer a reaction in a rural area. (But, some studies show children who grow up on farms are less likely to develop allergies.)
9. No Childhood Allergies? No Worries.
MYTH. Allergies often begin in childhood. But you can develop them as an adult, too. Some occur after you change your environment and encounter new allergens. Some adults redevelop symptoms they had during childhood.
10. Regular Injections Can Ease Allergies
FACT. While there are no full cures for allergies, allergy shots – also known as immunotherapy are the closest thing. If you have bad allergies or reactions to many different allergens, you may benefit from immunotherapy. Regular injections may dramatically reduce your reaction to certain allergens.
Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@pph.org.