It’s that dreadful time of year already – allergy season.
According to the National Allergy Bureau, pollen count is a lot higher than usual.
An allergic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system reacts to a foreign substance, called an allergen. This causes the immune system to release chemical “mediators” such as histamine, which produces symptoms such as sneezing, wheezing, coughing and other reactions, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology website.
“It is an amazing dry season that coincides [with] the flowering of many different species of trees,” said Dr. Suzanne Teuber, professor of medicine and training program director of the Allergy and Immunology Fellowship program at the UC Davis School of Medicine.
Because of little rain this year, there has been an increase in pollen count in Davis, she said.
“We usually have rain several times per month in February and March to knock out the pollen, but not this year,” Teuber said. “Due to the lack of rain during this window of time, various species of trees are pollinating in succession without periodic storms to clear the air.”
According to the National Allergy Bureau, latest pollen and mold counts in Roseville, Calif. show “very high concentration” of pollen from trees, while pollen from weeds, grass and mold are at “low concentration.”
“The grass season is just starting,” Teuber said. “It’s heaviest in April and May. The trees pollinate earlier, pollinating as early as January.”
The majority of the pollen comes from oak, birch, cottonwood, box elder and mulberry trees. In Davis, grasses and olive trees are the most common causes for allergies, Teuber added.
“Grasses and olive trees are the most significant pollinators in our area, which will be blooming in May,” Teuber said. “According to research, about 65 percent of people who come in for allergy testing in our area are sensitive to grasses or olive trees.”
Teuber said she stresses the importance of alleviating allergies.
“[Allergies] affects life, sleep and can cause fatigue and depression.”
It can not only be detrimental to everyday life activities, but it can also affect cognitive thinking.
“Allergies can affect your cognition because they can interrupt sleep,” Teuber said. “If you have active allergies, then your cognitive ability may not be up to par.”
Students often have a rough time paying attention in class.
“Allergies can kill my day,” said first-year student Satish Balasubramanian. “They suppress my ability to concentrate in class.”
Although there is no way to avoid allergies, there are ways to lighten the sniffing and sneezing.
“The best method is just controlling the symptoms,” said Stephanie Nardini, Cowell Health Center family nurse practitioner.
“People can get over-the-counter antihistamines. They can also make an appointment to come in for nasal sprays and eye drops to help the symptoms. If the allergies are very bad, we can do allergy testings and desensitize with allergy shots.”
The most effective way to stop allergy symptoms is using a nasal spray.
“Nasal sprays are most effective,” Teuber said. “There are 50 studies with antihistamine and the nasal spray always wins out.”
JANET HUNG can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.