Allergies A Rite of Spring - Part II

In the last article, we learned about triggers and testing for allergic rhinitis and animal dander and dust mite avoidance measures. In this article, we will explore pollen avoidance measures.

Arizona is not a bad place to live for allergy sufferers!

In a survey that looked at the sales of over the counter allergy medications across the country Phoenix, AZ ranked 50th. Atlanta ranked number one. Therefore moving elsewhere may not be a viable option for allergy sufferers! At the same time you have to take cognizance of the following facts: in the early part of 20th century, many people from all over the country with respiratory problems moved to Arizona following their doctors’ advice. They brought with them exotic plants that thrive here, thanks to our good climate. Unlike the Midwest, we do not have frost in the winter that usually reduces allergy level by killing plants. Our soil is also loose; the pollen gets airborne quickly following high winds. For these reasons, we may be facing a bigger impact of allergies in Arizona than elsewhere.

Not all plants cause allergy

Pollen measures between 10 and 20 microns in size. Pollination involves the transfer of pollens from flower to flower for reproduction. Most of allergy-causing plants are wind pollinated (depend on the wind for transferring pollen from flower to flower). Since wind pollination is not efficient, such plants have to produce large amounts of pollen to carry out pollination successfully. Sometimes the wind could carry the pollens for hundreds of miles! This explains why you may suffer from grass or tree pollen allergy even though you may not have trees or grass in your backyard. On the other hand, many ornate and fragrant flowers such as roses and orange blossoms are bee-pollinated. The honeybees transfer pollen from flower to flower very efficiently. Therefore, these plants do not have to produce pollen in large amounts. Hence, they are not important in causing allergies.

Do you have asthma- then beware of winds and thunderstorms

Particles less than 5 microns do not reach our lungs because of efficient filtration by our nostrils. The pollens are bigger than this. Researchers have found that pollens primarily affect nostrils in allergy sufferers and cause allergic inflammation (swelling) of the nostrils and sinuses. Eventually, this inflammation spills over and spreads to affect the lungs also. This explains why at the height of pollen season, some allergy sufferers complain of the tightness of chest and difficulty breathing. It is known that following thunderstorms, the pollens get fragmented into smaller particles (less than 5 microns), and this facilitates their entry into lungs to worsen asthma symptoms! It is also known that following Santa Ana winds in California, emergency room visits for asthma exacerbations go up.

What can you do to escape from pollen?

Trees pollinate in the spring. Grasses pollinate longer- from spring through fall! Weeds that are common in Kingman pollinate mainly in the fall but can do so sporadically throughout the year depending on the weather. You can focus on the following measures if you happen to be allergic to pollen: avoid cutting grass, trimming trees or reducing weeds; let someone else who does not suffer from allergies do it for you. Do not dry clothes outside. They are excellent pollen traps! Minimize spending time outdoors during high pollen days. Wash your hair and take a shower before going to bed if you have spent long hours outdoors during spring and fall. Keep your windows and doors closed and air-conditioning turned on. By doing this, you will save on medical expenses. Avoid evaporative coolers and use air-conditioners instead. Keep your car windows up, set air-circulation for inside and keep car air-conditioners on! Do research online and talk to experts before you plant trees or grass in your yard. Select plants that are not allergy causing. Overall it 's hard to avoid pollen exposure, especially during spring and fall.

You have to explore other options that will be presented in the next article.

If you have questions, please call our office for clarification at 928-681-5800

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