Allergies: Why they make us so miserable

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My mother-in-law once had a total of nine television sets sprinkled throughout her house. I'm like her in a way…I have boxes of tissues littering my home too. There's a box in each bathroom, the kitchen, and bedrooms, and don't' forget the living room. Why, you may ask? I've got allergies.

So just what is an allergy?

Allergies are an unnatural reaction by a person's immune system against a commonly non-irritating substance; when someone who is allergic encounters this matter or allergen, their body manufactures chemicals that cause allergy symptoms. 

Symptoms 

Symptoms can include watery or itchy eyes, stuffy or runny nose, coughing, sneezing, wheezing (sounds like some of the Seven Dwarfs!), and hives. This malady is called allergic rhinitis. You could have all these symptoms or just a couple. 

 

Couple rough seasons

Spring and fall are the most prevalent allergy season in the US. Tree and plant pollens are abundant and flying around at this time. Why do you always hear about grasses and tree pollens and not flower pollen? Because they are the lighter weight pollens and are easily carried by the wind, of course. Flower pollen is heavier and does not take flight with the air (ragweed is the exception). That's why we don't typically hear about allergies connected with flowers. Bees and birds are the carriers of this type of pollen.

 

What's being carried around?

Mold spores, dust mites, grass, tree, and weed pollens are the main offenders. Besides airborne allergies, some folks are allergic to certain foods like peanuts and wheat (both on the rise), insects like bees, animals such as cats or birds, and even latex (think rubber gloves).

 

What type of allergies do you have?

Hay fever or rose fever is the most prevalent. Four million workdays are lost each year because of ragweed, the main "ingredient' causing the sniffles to those allergic. An interesting note: four weeks have also been added to the normal 6-week period of ragweed season.

 

Certain cities to avoid

Lexington, KY, is an allergy sufferer's worst nightmare, especially in the spring. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) says its daily average pollen count is 300 grains per cubic meter of pollen. 

Greensboro, NC, is another city on the AAFA list as the most miserable city in autumn. Grass, tree, and weed pollen are the offenders here.

It's not just in the south, frankly. Grand Rapids, MI, and Madison, WI are places to avoid, especially in the fall, if you have seasonal allergies. 

If you are susceptible

Be sure to scan your local advertising flyers for sales at your grocery. It's surely one way to stock your home with an abundance of tissues! 


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