Spring is here, and with it another allergy season in Arizona has begun. Our office is very busy helping existing and new allergy patients because of the wet winter and spring.
For some this is the time to enjoy nature at its best, admiring beautiful trees and tropical desert flowers in full bloom, getting outdoors to exercise, and appreciate the time spent with family.
Nonetheless, for people who suffer from allergies and asthma, spring, (and especially this spring), can be a difficult time. Grass and tree pollination cause high pollen counts that are responsible for more severe allergic symptoms and frustrating disruptions to everyday life.
Apart from ragweed, a common allergen both in Arizona and throughout the US, several other species release considerable amounts of pollen and may contribute to your hay fever or asthma.
1. Bahia Grass (Paspalum notatum)
Bahia is a grass species that produces pollen from spring through fall, and several subspecies thrive in the southeast regions of the United States. This plant causes hay fever, allergic conjunctivitis (pinkeye), and asthma to individuals with pollen sensitivity.
2. Lamb’s Quarter (Chenopodium album)
According to Pollen Library (pollenlibrary.com), lamb’s quarter is a “noxious weed,” meaning an undesirable but also potentially harmful plant. It’s considered a moderate allergen, often responsible for allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms.
3. Kochia (Kochia scoparia)
Also known as summer cypress or burning bush, Kochia is an annual plant that can reach six feet in height. It is a common species throughout the western and northern US, and it produces large amounts of highly allergenic windborne pollen.
4. Olive Tree (Olea europaea)
Arizona’s desert climate encourages olive tree growth. While some counties only allow fruitless cultivars to reduce pollen levels, blooming trees also exist. Olive trees pollinate from the end of April until middle or late June, but it depends on the region and climate. Their dust-like pollen can cause itching, runny eyes, congestion, and dryness.
5. Rye (Lolium perenne)
Ryegrass is a short-lived perennial plant quite different from the well-known foodstuff (Secale cereale). Its pollen is one of the leading causes of type I allergies all over the world. Like several other kinds of grass, it causes respiratory issues, headaches, and fatigue.
6. Windscale Saltbush (Atriplex canescens)
Windscale is a grayish-white shrub commonly found in the Western US. Its blooming occurs during July and August, and it’s considered one of the most important allergenic weeds.
How to Reduce Pollen Exposure
-Pay close attention to the pollen forecast. Refrain from scheduling outdoor activities when pollen counts are exceptionally high, such as on dry, windy days.
-If you have to walk around to run errands, consider wearing a pollen mask. When driving, keep your car windows rolled up and the air-conditioning on to clear the air inside your vehicle.
-Change the air filter frequently because it tends to trap a lot of pollen.
-Remember to be proactive; take your allergy medication before venturing outside to prevent your symptoms from flaring up.
Dealing with seasonal allergies and asthma can be tough; they often affect productivity and quality of life. Knowing which plants you need to avoid can help you minimize your exposure to pollen. You should also consult your allergist for further tips and instructions. And most of all, stay SAFE and HEALTHY as much as you can.
More Recommended Reading For Arizona Allergy Sufferers
If you find yourself regularly sneezing, tearing up, feeling itchy, and having a stuffy nose, you may be among the 20 million Americans suffering from hay fever which is a nasal allergy. Contrary to what the name suggests, this is of course neither an allergy to hay nor is it likely to trigger a temperature. The medical term for this ailment is allergic rhinitis (more details here).
What causes hay fever?
In a nutshell, hay fever is an allergic reaction to an allergen in the environment. When your body comes into contact with a substance that it identifies as an allergen, it triggers a hypersensitive reaction to fight off the allergen. Common allergens include dust mites, mold spores, pollen, and dander among others.
Hay fever occurs in two forms. In the Phoenix area, most people have the seasonal variety that flares up around spring, and early fall when certain plants bloom. However, others suffer from hay fever year around (perennially) because of the high amounts of pollution and our Arizona pollen count
Considering how much of a nuisance hay fever can be, it is always a good idea to try to nip it in the bud before it sets in. By employing these five tips for preventing hay fever, you will give your body the best chance of getting through the day sneeze-free.
How to prevent hay fever
1. Identify your allergen
What your body considers to be an allergen is unique to you. This same allergen is unlikely to elicit the same hypersensitive reaction in someone else. So, the first step is to identify what exactly triggers the response in you. For example, you may be allergic to one kind of pollen and not another. A quick visit to a certified allergy specialist is the best place to start. They have the right kind of allergy testing that will be able to help you to pinpoint the exact cause of your hay fever.
2. Allergy-proof your home
After you have identified the allergen, the next step is to rid your home of the allergen. For example, if you are allergic to dust mites, you can use mite proof bedding. If you are allergic to animal fur, it may be advisable to have pets stay out of the house altogether.
During high pollen seasons, keep your windows shut and always air condition your house. Keep your kitchen cabinets dry to prevent mold. It is also recommended to avoid drying clothes outside during high pollen seasons and to avoid bringing fresh flowers into the house.
3. Avoid the outdoors during high pollen seasons
This one can be somewhat tough at times, but if possible, you should try to avoid being outside during high pollen seasons. Ideally, you could have a friend or neighbor take care of your outdoor tasks. If you do have to go out, wearing sunglasses over your eyes, and a light scarf over your mouth and nose will keep pollen from entering your body.
When you do return to your home, you should take a shower to get rid of any pollen you might have carried in on your skin that may trigger an overnight attack.
4. Give your immune system a boost
Eat healthy, exercise (always good advice!) and consult your physician for immune boosting medications and supplements. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist. A clinic like ours employs doctors who are specially trained to look at your unique symptoms and diagnose the underlying problems which sometimes involve more than just over the counter medications, or allergy tablets. As an example, we often see that our patients are better, and suffer less from allergies by getting immunotherapy injections.
5. Apply a protective gel to your nostrils
Rubbing a small amount of petroleum jelly inside of your nostrils or using nasal sprays that create a coating in your nostrils may prevent pollen from getting past your nostrils. This method is not scientifically proven but is employed worldwide, and many people swear by it.
The symptoms of hay fever can interfere with your daily life. By implementing these five tips, you should be able to reduce the pain and disruption next time around.
Need Allergy Assistance?
If you are interested in getting tested to find out which allergens are causing you problems; or learning more about our allergy testing and treatment services, please call 602-242-4592 for an appointment at one of our 5 Phoenix Metro locations.
The team at Adult & Pediatric Allergy Associates, P.C. is eager to help you breathe easier and live life more fully again!