Prevention is best…
The key in treating any allergy is preventing exposure to the trigger allergen. Since this isn't always possible, there are a number of other ways to reduce symptoms for some cases, such as hay fever and insect bites.
SEASONAL HAY FEVER
Hay fever, also known as “seasonal allergic rhinitis” is an allergic response to pollen (the male component of the plant reproductive system) or other microscopic substances that are present only at certain times of the year. Allergic rhinitis can also be perennial (year-round). Sneezing, runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes accompany seasonal attacks (spring or summer). Hay fever affects 10 percent to 20 percent of the world population. It's impossible to eliminate pollen floating in the air, however, there are a number of precautions you can take to limit exposure to this allergen:
- • In the spring and summer, if possible, stay indoors early in the afternoon, when outdoor pollen counts are usually highest.
- • If possible, sleep with the window closed to prevent pollen from entering the room.
People who react to a bee sting or insect bite with a hive or swelling in more than 4 in/10 cm of the skin, or have a general reaction with itchiness, asthma or a drop in blood pressure, should visit their doctor for a RAST blood test or skin scratch test, to diagnose allergies to insect bites. Allergy specialists can then consider what is the necessary treatment.
- • Use sunglasses, to impede contact between pollen and the eyes.
- • Don't cut the grass yourself and avoid being around freshly cut grass if possible.
- • Keep windows closed and set the air conditioner to use re-circulated air if you are allergic to pollen.
- • When choosing a vacation spot, think about going to the beach, because coastal areas tend to have lower pollen count.
BEE STINGS OR INSECT BITES
Bee, wasp, yellow jacket, hornet or fire ant stings most often trigger allergic reactions. Wasps generally bite in the summer and fall, during winter only the queen survives. Bees are less aggressive but their venom penetrates further into the skin. Although these types of insect bites are common, only 10 percent of the population has mild allergic reactions and less than 0.5 percent has severe allergic reactions to insect venom. Here are a few tips to avoid insect bites:
- • Don't make sudden moves if there are wasps or bees close by.
- • Use gloves when gardening or picking fruit.
- • Stay away from fruit trees and fallen fruit.
- • Outdoors, don't use baggy clothing or bright colors, because they attract insects.
- • Don't use perfume.
- • Avoid eating outdoors.
- • Don't walk barefoot.
PAY ATTENTION TO TIMES AND WEATHER
During summer and spring, in the early morning and in the evenings, outdoor pollen levels are usually highest. When the earth cools down, the pollen falls in clouds. During a storm, allergens found in the air increase considerably, because humidity makes pollen grains explode. Check the forecast. Stay indoors as much as possible on hot, dry, windy days when pollen counts are highest.