Allergies are Something to Sneeze About

Health Minute

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The Dayton area made a top-ten list! Unfortunately, it’s not a list everyone’s itching to be on. In 2010, Dayton ranked #4 in the nation in the spring allergy cities according to a report by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). The designation is based on:

  • Tree pollen counts (oak, maple, elm and birch trees especially vex those with allergies, AAFA said);
  • The amount of allergy medication used locally, based on data from IMS Health;
  • Access to board-certified allergists, based on the ratio of such professionals to the overall population.

When most people think of an allergy, they think of the sneezing, congestion, and itchy eyes caused by pollen. In fact, allergies can be caused by just about any substance that you inhale or swallow, or that touches your skin.

An allergen is something that triggers an allergy. When a person with allergic rhinitis (or more commonly known as hay fever) breathes in an allergen such as pollen or dust, the body releases chemicals, including histamine. This causes allergy symptoms such as itching, swelling, and mucus production.

Hay fever involves an allergic reaction to pollen. (A similar reaction occurs with allergy to mold, animal dander, dust, and similar inhaled allergens.)

The pollens that cause hay fever vary from person to person and from region to region. Large, visible pollens are seldom responsible for hay fever. Tiny, hard to see pollens more often cause hay fever. Examples of plants commonly responsible for hay fever include:

  • Trees (deciduous and evergreen)
  • Grasses
  • Ragweed

The amount of pollen in the air can play a role in whether hay fever symptoms develop. Hot, dry, windy days are more likely to have increased amounts of pollen in the air than cool, damp, rainy days when most pollen is washed to the ground.

Allergies are common. Your genes and environment may make you more prone to allergies. Whether or not you are likely to develop allergies is often passed down through families. If both your parents have allergies, you are likely to have allergies. The chance is greater if your mother has allergies.

The best treatment is to avoid what causes your allergic symptoms in the first place. It may be impossible to completely avoid all your triggers, but you can often take steps to reduce exposure.

Treatments for allergic rhinitis include (before starting any medication, or if you have questions about allergies, please contact your physician):

  • Antihistamines
  • Nasal corticosteroid sprays
  • Decongestants may also be helpful in reducing symptoms such as nasal congestion
  • Prescription medicine approved to help control asthma and to help relieve the symptoms of seasonal allergies
  • Allergy shots

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.