Contributed by- Dr. Pooja Chaudhary
Spring is a season of a new beginning and is considered the most beautiful time of the year when the temperature starts rising, and everything is blooming. Along with its sparkle, it brings the storm of allergies, marking the start of a runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing. During spring, plants release pollen in the air, which make us have allergic reactions to the environment leading to the various symptoms of allergies.
Most of us have developed a genetic disposition towards allergies, from our parents. During the allergy season, our body has an immune reaction when it gets exposed to different types of allergens, which forms allergy-specific antibodies (immunoglobulin). These antibodies settle down on the cells of our skin, lungs, eyes, and nose. The moment you are in contact with an allergen, the body retorts by releasing a chemical called histamines, leading to allergic reactions and hence the development of various symptoms.
What are the symptoms of allergies?
Pollen is the most common allergen, and an encounter with it can lead to allergy symptoms. The symptoms occurring are mostly an immune overreaction by the body. It is an attempt by our body to protect the vital and sensitive respiratory system from the aggressors. Anti-bodies produced by the body succeed in keeping these aggressors away, but they cause the characteristic symptoms of allergy. These include:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Pollens can aggravate asthma symptoms
How can you avoid allergies?
We all look forward to springtime but are bothered by the allergies that come along with it. To keep problems at a side, some precautions can help in handling these allergies. These include:
- Limit the time you spend outside
- Avoid exercising outside for a very long time
- Try wearing a mask, mainly while doing any yard work
- Keep the car windows closed while driving
- Taking a shower along with a hair wash and change clothes once you are back home after being outside for a while. This will help in removing the pollens
- Deep cleaning of the house before the springtime as this will assist in minimizing the indoor allergens
- Keeping pets off the bed and other furniture
- Use your air conditioners as this is a great way to prevent the pollens from entering the house
- It is best to avoid hanging laundry outside the home and dry them indoors
- Take over the counter anti-histamine medication and nasal sprays
- If the allergy symptoms persist despite all the preventions and remedies, it is advisable to get yourself evaluated for allergen immunotherapy
What are the different types of pollen?
Pollen, an airborne allergen is picked up and carried by air and is one of the most common trigger factors for allergies. Most of the pollen that can cause allergic reactions comes from trees, weeds, and grasses.
There are around 30 different types of pollens, and their presence in the air will be dependent on the time of year. People can be allergic to different kind of pollens, depending on their geographical location. An allergy test can help in the diagnosis of the type of pollen you are allergic to.
Why sinus symptoms aggravate during spring season?
It has been seen that the start of sinus infections was due to an allergy. Most of the people suffering from chronic or acute sinusitis have whined about an increase in the amount of sinus congestion and pain during the spring season.
Spring mostly brings frequent changes in the weather, which results in the fluctuations of the barometric pressure (It is the pressure that the atmosphere exerts on the earth surface). Sinus symptoms are aggravated because of these changes in atmospheric pressure. People suffering from sinusitis will have clogged or highly congested sinus cavities. If there is a drop in the pressure, which results in the swelling of the lining of the nasal passage, leading to sinus headaches.
What is the difference between sinusitis and allergies?
Suffering from allergy or sinusitis causes a lot of uncomfortable symptoms, and it is difficult to tell if it is an allergy or sinus infection.
Sinus infection or sinusitis: It is an inflammation or swelling of the tissues lining the sinuses. These sinuses are filled with air, but when they get blocked and fluid-filled, they become breeding ground for germs and causes infection.
Allergy: They occur as an immune response by the body to the various allergens present in the environment. These allergens are found in pollens, dust mites, insects, molds, food, etc.
|Facial pain /pressure||Present||Sometimes|
|Extent of illness||It may last for over 10-14 days||It mostly varies|
|Nasal discharge||A thick, yellow-green discharge||Clear, thin and watery discharge|
|Fever||It is mostly accompanied by fever||There is no fever|
|A headache||It mostly has a sinus headache||Sometimes it can be accompanied by a headache|
|Nasal congestion||There is the presence of nasal congestion||At times it is present|
|Sneezing||Mostly there is no sneezing||Sometimes sneezing is there|
Sinusitis mostly develops because of cold or allergies.
What tests can confirm if the congestion stems from allergies or a bacterial or viral infection associated with sinusitis?
Examination of the cause of congestion starts with a medical history and a detail note on the symptoms. The doctor will examine and feel for the tenderness present in the nose and face. The diagnostic test advises are:
- Nasal endoscopy: This is performed to inspect the sinuses visually
- Imaging studies: CT Scan and MRI will show the details of the sinuses and can help in ruling the cause of congestion
- Nasal and sinus cultures: This will help in ruling out the bacterial or viral infection associated with sinusitis
- Allergy testing: This will help in ruling out if allergies have triggered the sinus infection
How to prevent a sinusitis attack?
Several ways can help in preventing the sinus attack. These include:
- Washing hands frequently, as viruses can live on the doorknobs and other surfaces
- Getting the flu shot yearly
- Having a well-balanced diet and exercising can keep the immune system strong
- Cigarette smoking can irritate the sinuses, so it is advised to quit smoking
- Dryness can lead to sinus pain. Hence the use of a humidifier can help
- Use of a saline nasal solution
- Use of Neti pot. It is a nasal irrigation system which has been used from ancient times and is very helpful in keeping the nasal passages clean.
- Keep the windows closed
- Keep the house dust free, by cleaning on a regular basis
What food can help to keep allergies at bay?
Body’s immune system can be boosted by following a diet that is rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. It can decrease the inflammation in our body and can lessen the symptoms of allergy. Foods that can help us in keeping our allergies at bay include:
- Onions, peppers, parsley
- Wheat Bran
- Hot tea
- Spicy food
What food can help to keep sinusitis at bay?
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus. It can be prevented by having a diet that includes foods having anti-inflammatory properties. Foods that can help in reducing inflammation include:
- Fish like salmon, cod, and sardines which are rich in omega three fatty acids
- Red bell peppers as these are rich in vitamin C
- Green vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, leafy vegetables, sprouts
- Citrus fruits like orange, grapefruit, berries
- Green tea
- Spices like ginger, basil, cayenne pepper
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