Oklahoma has a reputation for some lovely things: beautiful landscape, friendly people, clean air. Unfortunately, we’ve also got a bad rap with other stuff: Tornadoes, mosquitoes, and ragweed. It’s hay fever season people, and apparently you don’t have to be in a barn to get it. Here’s a little clarity on what the heck hay fever is, why it’s ruining your day, and what to do about it.
Hay Fever brings about cold-like symptoms – sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes, and sinus pressure – but is an allergy, not a virus. It’s triggered by sensitivity to interior or exterior allergens like pollen, pet dander, or dust mites. So a number of things can cause hay fever, it’s not one allergy.
I remember as a child picking beautiful flowers for my mother. I was so excited to give her this gift and when I did, she immediately threw them out. Apparently those flowers are called ragweed and mom is extremely allergic. The pretty green flowers I loved contain copious amounts of pollen.
In North America ragweed is the cause of about half of all pollen-allergens. The pollen gets into the air and can stay there for days, traveling hundreds of miles. Just because you can’t see this sneaky plant, doesn’t mean you’re not being affected by it. So stay strong, ragweed is at its peak from August to October.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 10 percent of people are allergic to household pets - cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies. But it’s not just animal hair. It can be from the animal’s skin dander or saliva. Dust mites also like cling to dander, making it a double whammy for someone sensitive to both.
Here’s a quick list of things you can do to lessen the blow:
If your eyes are itchy and irritated, get drops with an antihistamine. They work pretty fast, but will need to be reapplied in a couple of hours.
Get a Nedi Pot, hunch over the sink, and hold on to your dignity. This process feels a bit silly but it really works. The solution flushes out your nasal passage, clearing up congestion.
There’s plenty of allergy medication out there. Narrow it down by deciding if you want something over the counter, prescription, or an anti-biotic. Try over the counter for mild reactions and if that doesn’t work, talk to your physician.
The best way to prevent allergic reactions of any kind is to find out what you’re actually allergic to. Schedule a skin test (or scratch test) with your doctor or allergist. They can test different allergens in your blood stream by pricking or scratching your skin. You’ll know within about fifteen minutes if you’re allergic. You can also take a blood test but results will take a couple of days.
This was the coolest find! The Weather Channel (and others) has an allergy tracker for your area – yes, even for Southeastern Oklahoma. Just type in your location and it’ll give you the skinny on what’s floating around in the air each day. *Image below.
I’ll leave this one to the experts:
These shots involve being regularly injected with a small amount of the substance you're allergic to. The idea is to stimulate your immune system and help your body become desensitized to the allergens, according to the Mayo Clinic. A Cochrane Collaboration review updated in 2003 found that allergy shots help to improve symptoms of asthma, reduce the need for medications, and lessen the risk of severe asthma attacks when patients are exposed to allergens in the future.
- January W. Payne with U.S. News & World Report.
The key to surviving hay fever this season is education and prevention. The more you know about you and your family’s sensitivity to allergens, the more empowered you'll be to take proper action. Avoidance will keep you indoors and with this gorgeous fall weather, you’ll want to enjoy it as much as you can!
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