Pollen is the biggest spring allergy trigger. When someone who is allergic breathes in pollen grains, the immune system goes into overdrive to protect the body.
Pollen is a foreign invader, which automatically releases antibodies to identify and attack viruses, bacteria and other illness-causing organisms. The antibodies attack the allergens, which releases chemicals called "histamines" into the bloodstream. Histamines trigger runny noses, itchy eyes and other allergy symptoms.
Here are some common spring allergy offenders:
Trees: alder, ash, aspen, beech, box elder, cedar, cottonwood, cypress, elm, hickory, juniper, maple, mulberry, oak, olive, palm, pine, poplar, sycamore and willow.
Grasses and Weeds: bermuda, fescue, johnson, june, orchard, perennial rye, redtop, saltgrass, sweet vernal and timothy.
Allergy symptoms tend to be particularly common on breezy days when the wind picks up pollen and carries it through the air. Rainy days, on the other hand, cause a drop in the pollen counts because the rain washes away the allergens.
Symptoms of spring allergies include:
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Watery eyes
· Airborne allergens also can trigger asthma, a condition that causes the airways to narrow, making breathing difficult. This can lead to coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
For more information on allergies, please visit the WebMd website and read the "Spring Allergies" article.