Worst Allergy season in years
Soaring Pollen Counts Spur Worst Allergy Season in Years

April 27, 2006 08:46:41 PM PST
By E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporter
[Image: addtomyyahoo3.gif] Yahoo! Health: Allergy News THURSDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- April showers bring May flowers, but this year they've also brought a bumper crop of grass, ragweed and early-budding trees that means misery to millions of allergic Americans.
Experts across the country say they are recording the highest pollen counts they've seen in a decade. And while the Southeast usually gets slammed the hardest when it comes to airborne allergens, this season it may be Yankees who are suffering the most.
"I looked at the total pollen counts for this season compared to last, and, at this point, we have already reached 80-90 percent of what we saw for the entire season last year," said Albany, N.Y.-based allergy specialist Dr. David Shulan, a spokesman for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).
The culprit: a mild, wet winter and early spring, plus unusually warm days.
"We have seen an early and aggressive allergy season, including seasonal pollens and mold spores," said Dr. Clifford Bassett, a Long Island-based allergist and vice-chairman of AAAAI's Public Education Committee.
Shulan agreed. "The buds have been ready to burst, and when we have these warm days, the pollen counts have been just wild," he said.
According to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, which estimates that 50 million Americans are impacted by allergies, the top 10 worst cities to be in right now, in terms of airborne allergens, are:

  • Hartford, Conn.
  • Greenville, S.C.
  • Boston
  • Detroit
  • Orlando, Fla.
  • Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Omaha, Neb.
  • Sacramento, Calif.
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Baltimore
There are steps the allergic can take to minimize the sneezing, wheezing and itchy eyes that plague them this season. One is obvious: Avoid the great outdoors. That doesn't mean sealing yourself indoors 24/7, experts said, but some common-sense tips might help.
"First off, get someone else to help you with yard chores -- find someone in the family who's not allergic to do the mowing, for example," said Dr. Sandra McMahan, a senior staff physician specializing in pediatric allergy at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas.
Pollen counts are always highest in the morning, so try and plan outdoor activities for the afternoon or evening whenever possible. Rain tends to drive allergens out of the air, so planning activities for just after a good rain makes sense, too. "The patient will frequently feel better for a day or so after a rainstorm, because there's less pollen blowing around," said McMahan, who is also an assistant professor of internal medicine at the Texas A & M Health Science Center College of Medicine.
All the experts stressed that keeping windows closed and using air conditioning -- even when the weather is pleasant outside -- can cut the misery for allergic individuals while they're at home.
But what about that perennial springtime passion, gardening? Bassett said green-thumbed Americans can still enjoy their hobby, despite allergies, as long as they follow a few simple steps.
First off, he said, wear gloves and a pollen mask while outside, and work on relatively humid, windless days. Keep soils moist and gardens free of flowering weeds. Shower and shampoo after you come back inside. Rinse off glasses after gardening and keep gardening clothing away from the bedroom.
Bassett also advised against planting the following high-allergen species: amaranthus, crocus, elderberry, juniper, peony, poppy and privet. Some low-allergen alternatives include azalea, begonia, bougainvillea, daisy, dahlia, gladiola, iris, irish moss, marigold, orchids, snapdragon, sunflowers, tulips, violets and zinnias.
And don't forget the secret sex lives of plants: "Planting female trees in one's own yard will attract and then trap incoming airborne pollen from male plants," Bassett warned.
The experts also advised that people back up all of these tips with medication.
"Medications are much better now than they were in the past," McMahan said. "We have the nonsedating antihistamines, which are very helpful and much safer to use. One -- loratadine, generic Claritin -- is now available over-the-counter." There's also an antihistamine nasal spray, Astelin, available by prescription, he added
Besides these, there are what Shulan called the "heavy hitters" -- nasal steroids such as Flonase (now available in a cheaper generic form) as well as Rhinocort, Nasacort and Nasonex.
"Remember though, these drugs take time to start working -- it make take up to two weeks for them to take full effect, although you'll notice some relief in a day or two," Shulan said. "With the nasal steroids, you have to use them regularly throughout the season," he added
So, with proper planning and the right pharmaceuticals, most Americans should be able to cope with even this year's tough allergy season.
But they may have to be patient.
"Here in Albany, the trees start acting up from late March going into June, then the grass takes over in late May, peaking in June and early July," Shulan said. "That should go right through summer till it tapers off sometime in September."
More information
What causes allergies, and what, exactly, are they?
I am very blessed, it seems, in that I am not, nor have ever been allergic, and don't have family who are, either. However, I'm curious why I'm not, yet everybody else in the country seems to be? Does it have to do with where you live? sex? age?
Allergies are caused by irritants that trigger an immune response.  Normally, our bodies can handle a certain number of "irritants" or allergens.  But some people have overreactive immune systems.
There are three theories about the rise in people with allergy symptoms that I know of, perhaps it is a combination of the all these.
1. With so many chemicals and pollutants in our food, and the air we breathe, and the strange processed diet that we eat has overburdened people's immune system.  It's like they have reached a breaking point with the irritants in their system and so are allergic to things that they wouldn't be allergic to in an ideal environment, with an ideal diet.
2.  Our foods and our water are so sterile that our bodies no longer benefit from all the natural friendly microbes that we have benefited from for eons from the soil, etc.  These microbes should normally serve to help us digest and offset any damage done by natural irritants in our foods.  Since they don't our system is burdened by them, and while we may not react to the foods we eat, we reach a maximum point of overall irritant load, and react to pollens etc. in the environment.
3.  Our food and water is lacking in the vitamins and minerals that are key to keeping our bodies in balance, and helping us to offset the reaction to irritants that we come in contact with.
I have this info because I have alot of allergy problems that I have researched on.  It's been a long time since I read stuff though, so I don't have a clear source.
You don't have to tell me, about allergies I've had em since I was little. Thank GOD I only get heat rashes. Oddly this year my heat rash has come early and its really aggravated. In seeing this I know the summer is gonna be very hot and humid.
Guess I'll have to start putting it in check early this year. If anyone else on the forum suffers from heat rashes I reccomend you buy patchouli soap. There's one in particular that most Rite Aid pharmacies carry in the hispanic products section that has an egyption looking motif about the packaging. It really works wonder for my skin, as does Castille soap. I've used Aveeno and Neutrogena but sadly my body became immune to them. I use a lotion that's great to carry with you when you get the urge to scratch. Its called Lac Hydrin. You can get it in 2 forms, prescription and over the counter. If you opt for the over the counter one get the 12% Ammonium Lactate Lotion, its just as good as the prescription one. I'll admit it does burn a lil, but its well worth it. The lotion is kinda expensive about $25.00 a bottle for the stronger over the counter form, the weaker one is cheaper. I've heard of someone using Ammonia on there skin, I'm not sure if it works but according to them it does when they have their rash.
Callomine(sp?) lotion is also another prescription that works well for rashes, over the counter substitutes are Cortizone 10 and Benadryl Anti-Histamine lotion. Taking Benadryl orally also helps in easing rashes and allergies.
Anyone else have any tips they'd like to share ?
Allergy season for me was pretty bad when I travelled down to San Francisco a few years ago; when I got home they just continued being horrible and I had to go on prescription antihistimines which made me sleep all summer. I guess I'm just allergic to California.
LatinPassion Wrote:Anyone else have any tips they'd like to share ?

I have mostly sinus and lung problems with allergies, but am also allergic to most kinds of lotions/creams soaps etc.  The number one thing that has helped me (besides sticking to natural toiletries) is to cut wheat and corn out of my diet.  I don't always do it, but if I'm having alot of trouble breathing, I cut it out completely for awhile and the symptoms almost completely go away.  It seems to help with my skin problems too.
My kids have major dust allergies. They use homeopathic remedies - there's a line called "Bioallers" which has Mold/Yeast/Dust and Pollen/Outside Allergen formulas. It's a bit pricey. But it does work to an extent. YOu have to keep taking it every couple of hours, but it is perfectly safe.


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