This column appears in the Nevada Appeal’s Tuesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
If you are like many in Carson City, the springtime is bittersweet. Sweet because the warmer weather brings beautiful spring blooms and, for a short time, the landscape around our high desert home is green. Bitter because, with all that beauty comes the first wave of itchy eyes, runny noses, and headaches for those who suffer from seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever.
Of all the things that can cause an allergy, pollen is one of the most common. These tiny grains are produced by plants for fertilization, and are carried from plant to plant through the air. The combination of newly emerging plants and strong Nevada winds make this prime time for allergies.
If you are an allergy sufferer, you are not alone. More than 50 million Americans suffer from some type of allergy each year. These include seasonal allergy sufferers, as well as those with food allergies, and allergies to other substances such as medication.
So what are allergies? Allergies are an overreaction of the body’s immune system to substances, called allergens, which generally do not affect other individuals. Allergens can cause the bothersome symptoms of sneezing, coughing, and itching that many of us experience this time of year, as well as rashes, dry eyes, and other symptoms. Allergic reactions range from merely bothersome to life-threatening.
How can you prevent allergies? Allergies generally cannot be prevented, but the symptoms can be treated. Once a person knows they are allergic to a certain substance, they can avoid contact with the allergen. Strategies for doing this include being in an air-conditioned environment during peak hay-fever season, avoiding certain foods, and eliminating other triggers like dust mites and animal dander from the home. You can also control allergy symptoms by taking medication to minimize symptoms or being immunized with allergy injection therapy.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, a pollen count may be a useful tool. Often reported by local weather forecasters or online weather sites, the pollen count is a measure of how much pollen and the type of pollen found in the air. Pollen counts tend to be the highest early in the morning on warm, dry, breezy days and the lowest during chilly, wet periods. Although the pollen count changes, it is useful as a general guide for when it may be wise for you to stay indoors and avoid contact with that pollen.
For information about services and programs available to you through Carson City Health and Human Services, please visit our website at gethealthycarsoncity.org, follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/cchhs, or call us at (775) 887-2190. You can also find us at 900 East Long Street in Carson City.