Most people look forward to the spring season. They finally get to come out from under their winter coats. The heat in their home is turned off in favor of sunshine and fresh breezes from windows that had been locked shut for months. New buds appear on the neighborhood trees. Flowers start to spring up out of the soil. The days start to get longer. And while most of these events are a reason for everyone to celebrate, any allergist will tell you that allergy sufferers describe the spring as the most miserable time of year.
During the spring months, pollen invades the air and cuts through your airways like cigarette smoke — you just can’t seem to get away from it no matter where you turn. While others are celebrating the new season, allergy sufferers are forced indoors.
So, what is pollen and why does it make allergy sufferers so miserable? Pollen is actually small spores that come from male trees and flowers. We often see the catkens (the remainder of the male part of the flowers and trees) that cover our cars, windows, and sidewalks making travel difficult for allergy sufferers.
There are generally two kinds of pollen:
- Sticky Pollen. This pollen is produced by plants and trees that have bright, ornamental flowers. This kind of pollen sticks to bees and is transported during flight, fertilizing other plants.
- Wind-Blown Pollen. This pollen comes from larger trees like pine and oak. The pollen is released in large quantities, fertilizing other trees of the same species.
If you believe you are suffering with allergies, you may find checking your local pollen count to be useful. The way the pollen counts are done is that pollen is collected on special rods. The pollen is then counted under a microscope. The pollen count is then calculated in grains per cubic meter of air.
People with allergies are known to experience sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, and may have some difficulty breathing. It is important to seek a diagnosis from an allergist in order to find a method that will ease your annual suffering. An allergist will ask questions about when and where your allergy symptoms tend to occur to make sure your allergy is not to other things like mold or even certain foods. Some allergists may prescribe yearly allergy shots while others may prescribe an over-the-counter antihistamine as the first line of defense.