After a mild winter, there was no mistaking allergy season’s early arrival to the ‘Burg this year. St. Petersburg’s tree pollen normally peaks in mid-March, followed by grass pollen in late May and finally weed pollen in mid-June.
It was no later than February, though, and our freshly waxed vehicles were already covered with a yellow film of tree pollen every other day and patients were filling up doctor’s waiting rooms with complaints of seasonal allergy ailments.
Seasonal allergies, also known as Hay Fever, occur when the trees, grasses, and weeds release tiny pollen particles into the air and affect a sensitive individual’s immune system.
An allergic reaction develops, causing symptoms ranging from sneezing, congestion, runny nose (allergic rhinitis), irritated and itchy eyes (allergic conjunctivitis) to unproductive cough, and allergic asthma. Impaired senses of taste and smell, sleep disturbances and exhaustion may also be attributed to seasonal allergies.
Although tree pollen’s fury has for the most part dissipated, many allergy sufferers are still feeling the wrath left by grass and weed pollen. If you find yourself sneezing up a storm while trying to enjoy the Florida weather, take comfort in knowing that there are a number of ways to find relief.
The easiest, and most obvious way, is to avoid the culprit. Staying indoors (especially on windy days), keeping windows and doors shut along with keeping dirty laundry that has absorbed any pollen in a contained space all helps. Fortunately, you don’t have to imagine a summer spent confined to your home; St. Petersburg’s daily summer showers alleviate some of allergies headache since pollen counts are lowest after rainfall.
There are also over-the-counter medications one can take such as Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec. These drugs block the effects of our body’s histamines, the cause of sneezing, runny noses and watery eyes. Nasal decongestants, another class of drugs, can relieve any sinus pressure and pain caused by congestion.
As always, should you have any questions or concerns regarding allergies or persistent allergy-like symptoms, consult with a medical doctor.
Vanessa Franz works at Doctors Express on 4th Street North in St. Petersburg. You may email Vaness at firstname.lastname@example.org.