Health Corner: Spring Allergy Season is Here

By Sue Danielson, health services

An allergy is what happens when your immune system reacts to something that’s usually harmless. Those triggers, which doctors call allergens, can include pollen, mold, and animal dander, certain foods, or things that irritate your skin. Allergies are very common. At least one in five Americans has one. It starts when you come into contact with a trigger that you inhale, swallow, or get on your skin.

If you have a nasal or skin allergy, common symptoms include:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, runny nose
  • Rashes
  • Feeling tired or ill
  • Hives (a rash with raised red patches)

Food allergies can also cause stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Most go away shortly after the exposure stops. Mild ones may be almost unnoticeable. You might just feel a little “off.” Moderate symptoms can make you feel ill, as if you have a cold or even the flu. The biggest spring allergy trigger is pollen. Trees, grasses, and weeds release these tiny grains into the air to fertilize other plants. When they get into the nose of someone who is allergic, they send the body's defenses haywire.

In general, there is no cure for allergies, but there are several types of medications available -- both over-the-counter and prescription -- to help ease and treat annoying symptoms like congestion and runny nose. These allergy drugs include antihistamines, decongestants, combination drugs, corticosteroids, and others.

Immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots or pills under the tongue, which gradually increase your ability to tolerate allergens, are also available.

Click to check the Allergy Map. Information Obtained from Web MD.