The Sneezing season

For many people, the small, light, easily airborne particles of pollen are an allergen-a substance that triggers the body into over-reacting to something that it thinks is harmful by creating antibodies to fight off the "attack" of the pollen. The release of the chemical called histamine is the result of pollen and antibodies clashing. Histamine is an underlying cause of the flood of tears and mucus produced by the body to flush out the offending pollens. Histamines also cause allergy symptoms such as: red, itchy, watering eyes; a runny nose; sneezing; headache; and of greater concern for people with asthma and other respiratory disorders, coughing and difficulty breathing. These allergies, also known as hay fever, are often caused by pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds.

Some people have allergies all year long. They suffer from year round exposure to allergic triggers such as dust mites, mold, and pets, especially cats. This is known as perennial allergic rhinitis. Some people think they are experiencing nasal allergies when, in fact, their symptoms are due to a nonallergic rhinitis. Nonallergic rhinitis may develop with colds; exposure to irritants, such as smoke, perfumes, aerosols, cleaning products, or paint; and for unknown reasons.


Avoidance is the best treatment for any allergy whenever possible. Keeping doors and windows closed in the home and car and avoiding vigorous outside activity will help to lessen your exposure during times when the pollen count is high. Try to limit outdoor activity during peak pollen release hours (5:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.).

Antihistamines may relieve many hay fever symptoms by inhibiting the action of histamine on nasal and eye tissues.

Nasal Decongestants act to decrease the swelling of the nasal tissue and the resulting feeling of stuffiness.

Prescribed allergy medications give greater symptom relief along with fewer side effects such as drowsiness.

Are all cases of rhinitis caused by allergies?

Rhinitis may result from many causes other than allergy; however not all rhinitis symptoms are the result of allergies. Listed below are the three most common causes of rhinitis with some of their characteristics.

Here are a few more tips for decreasing the severity of your allergy reaction and increasing your comfort:

  • Maintain a balanced diet to improve your body's ability to heal itself.
  • Sleep with your head elevated to prevent nasal congestion during the night.
  • Drink adequate fluids to loosen the secretions in your nose and throat.
  • Keep windows closed and vacuum and dust frequently using static-charged dust cloths.
  • Wear sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Shower after being outdoors to remove pollen from your skin and hair.