Allergy is a worldwide phenomenon, and is unfortunately, steadily increasing. It affects different body systems, causing different diseases of differing severity. This article deals with “what is seasonal allergies”, causes of seasonal allergy, seasonal allergies symptoms, and advises on what to do about seasonal allergies.
Allergy is a common condition, whereby the immune system of an affected individual reacts to common substances in the environment, in a manner that exceeds that of the majority of people (“normal” people).
Seasonal allergies are allergic disorders that tend to come in a seasonal fashion. There are many types of seasonal allergies, and in this article we will be looking at seasonal allergy due to inhaled allergens / airborne allergens. (Allergens are substances that trigger allergic reactions.)
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LINKS TO PRODUCTS FOR SEASONAL ALLERGY TREATMENT
Already interested in what to do for seasonal allergies? Here are listed some medications from Amazon.com, to be kept at home for prevention or treatment of allergy and itchy symptoms.
Please consult with your Pharmacist. Do read and comply with the package insert, and routinely check the expiry date of medications kept in the home.
* Antihistamines, Sedating type
* Antihistamines, Non-sedating type
* #Ad Fluticasone nasal spray (for prevention of hayfever)
WHAT IS SEASONAL ALLERGY DISTRIBUTION?
Allergy affects one in five (1/5) to one in four (1/4) people. Although occurring globally, it has been noted to be more prevalent, and to be increasing faster, in Developed Countries and urban areas. The reason is a combination of industrial activity which causes pollution, and high standards of living which lead to people living in such areas not being accustomed to antigens (this is called “The Hygiene Hypothesis”).
Seasonal allergy due to inhaled allergens is no exception to this distribution and trend. Industrialisation and urbanisation cause emission of a lot of gases and fumes into the environment / air. This, coupled with a lot of vegetation in some populated areas, leads to a huge burden of allergies.
BASIC IMMUNOLOGY (ALLERGY SCIENCE)
(This has been simplified a great deal, and helps to understand more what is allergy and how to get rid seasonal allergies. But some Readers can still find this in-depth exploration of allergy too difficult to understand. Kindly proceed to the next paragraph if not interested in this section.)
When the offending agent enters the body, and for the purposes of this article, through the inhaled route, it triggers a chain of events. This chain involves not one, but multiple mediators of the allergic response. The immune mediators include mast cells, white blood cells called eosinophils and basophils, and chemicals such as histamine and interleukin.
Allergic reactions are of four subtypes and differ in speed of onset and duration. They also differ in the immune mediators involved.
Some reactions begin in seconds, while others start after hours. Late reactions could manifest in a day or two. As a result of these different immunological patterns, the manifestation and progression of allergy is very varied.
Pharmacological agents for the prevention and treatment of allergic disorders, target the different players in the immune cascade. A few of these pharmacological treatments, which can be bought over the counter (no prescription needed) are listed above in the third paragraph, to help the Reader with sourcing the medication for seasonal allergies treatment. They don’t cure seasonal allergies, but they prevent and control them.
MAJOR CAUSES OF SEASONAL ALLERGY
Firstly, it needs to be stated that allergy is multifactorial. It can be caused by genetic and environmental factors, or both.
Is seasonal allergy inherited? There is definitely a tendency of allergies to run in families, and twin studies also support an inheritable component. But even in the presence of an inherited propensity to allergy, there has to be at least one environmental trigger factor for symptoms to ensue.
By far the commonest causes of airborne seasonal allergy are POLLENS. These include grass pollens and tree pollens.
It should be remembered that brightly coloured flowers are pollinated by insects, birds and animals (including humans) and that their pollens are big and sticky. On the other hand, grasses, whose flowers are dull, are pollinated by wind, and have small sized pollens which can be carried by the wind, and enter the airways with much more ease. As a result, grass pollens are more important in the causation of allergy, than tree pollens and other pollens from brightly coloured flowers.
Dust is the other offender. The amount of environmental dust varies in a seasonal fashion. However, the unfolding Climate Change is gradually obliterating the previously known wind patterns, with strong winds frequently occurring throughout the year in many places.
Pollutants such as are emitted from industrial sites, don’t follow a particular seasonal pattern, and will not be discussed in any further detail. It will only be said that allergens do work in synergy and that many allergy sufferers are allergic to not one, but several allergens. Therefore, pollutants could worsen allergy symptoms brought upon by grass during peak grass pollen season, for example.
Airborne allergens affect different parts of the body.
- They affect the eyes causing Allergic Conjunctivitis,
- the nose where they cause Allergic Rhinitis (“Hayfever”),
- and the lungs wherein they cause Asthma and Allergic Bronchitis.
- On the skin, they do trigger Allergic Dermatitis.
Again, many allergy sufferers have a combination of these ailments e.g. they may have Allergic Rhino-Conjunctivitis, or Rhinitis + Asthma.
While some allergy sufferers may, from close observation, be able to identify possible trigger(s) for their symptoms, the surest way of knowing as to what agents they are allergic to, is through ALLERGY TESTING.
There are tests of various efficacy (sensitivity) and cost. Furthermore, the tests often detect additional agents to which the client would not have been aware that they are allergic.
Knowing what substances (inhaled, ingested or applied to the skin) one is allergic to, is very important because ALLERGEN AVOIDANCE is the cornerstone of the management of allergy.
Seasonal allergy is very prevalent throughout the world and is increasing due to many factors. The allergy symptoms are also getting worse because of worsening climate change. This climate change is also causing the allergy season to get longer and longer throughout the world.
Awareness, education and knowledge sharing empower allergy affected individuals and families to live meaningful and productive lives. Thus they can live happily despite having a condition that many a times is a lifelong propensity.
We have answered the question, “what is seasonal allergy”?
In the next article on seasonal allergies, we shall discuss
- when is allergy season, and
- when is allergy season over.
We will also provide more tips on allergy avoidance and management (what to do about seasonal allergies).
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