ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — In preparation for spring, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology on Friday noted that avoiding certain fruits and vegetables, installing the proper air filters, closing the windows, filling any allergy prescriptions and consulting with an allergist can all prevent the delay of allergy symptom relief for more than 35 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies.
“People with spring allergies often don’t realize how many things can aggravate their allergy symptoms so they just muddle along and hope for an early end to the season,” stated Myron Zitt, past president of the ACAAI. “But there’s no reason to suffer. A few simple adjustments in habits and treatment can make springtime much more enjoyable.”
Following are the five factors ACAAI identified that can aggravate suffering:
Fruits and vegetables — Many people with seasonal allergies also suffer from pollen food allergy syndrome (also called oral allergy syndrome), a cross-reaction between the similar proteins in certain types of fruits, vegetables (and some nuts) and the allergy-causing pollen. One-in-5 people with grass allergies and as many as 70% of people with birch tree allergies suffer from the condition, which can make the lips tingle and swell and the mouth itch. The trick is to determine which problematic produce is causing the symptoms and then avoid eating it, although that fruit or vegetable might be able to be eaten if it’s peeled, cooked or canned. If the allergen is either a birch or alder tree, the reaction might come out of consuming celery, cherries or apples. If it's grass allergies, then tomatoes, potatoes or peaches may be the trigger. Up to 9% of people have reactions that affect a part of their body beyond their mouth, and 1.7% can suffer a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock;
Using the wrong air filter — Using an air filter to keep the home pollen-free is a good idea, but be sure it’s the right kind. Studies show inexpensive central furnace/air conditioning filters and ionic electrostatic room cleaners aren’t helpful — and in fact, the latter releases ions, which can be an irritant. Whole-house filtration systems do work, but only if the filters are changed regularly;
Opening windows — When windows are open, the pollen can drift inside, settle into the carpet, furniture and car upholstery, and continue to torture the allergy sufferer. So keep the house and car windows shut during allergy season;
Procrastinating — Don't put off or do without medication this spring. Instead, get the jump on allergies by taking any allergy medication before the season gets under way; and
Avoiding the allergist — Seeing an allergist can help determine just what’s triggering symptoms, and that can lead to a more effective treatment protocol.