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what to do when your immune system hates you

What is pollen?

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Pollen is the fine powdery substance which is produced by the stamen of a flowering plant to reproduce itself. The actual allergy to pollen is commonly termed "hay fever", and most people seem to have some sort of pollen allergy. Due to its tiny size, once ejected from the plant pollen travels on the winds to get everywhere and into everything. It is possibly one of the most widespread allergies found.

Since pollen gets everywhere during its particular season, it is present in every home no matter how much we may try to keep ahead of it. While many symptoms are not normally severe, they can be quite difficult to live with. If you go outside or open a window, you will exposed to pollen. What triggers an allergic reaction in humans, though?

Plants: the underlying cause of pollen related allergies

The reproductive system of many plants includes a stamen which expels pollen at the proper season for that plant. At those times, the local news will often include a report of that day's pollen count in the area. The important thing to remember though is that not everyone is allergic to all types of pollen. Just because it's a high pollen day, it's not necessary a high pollen day for your specific pollen.

Common pollen allergies include:

Symptoms of a pollen allergy include sinus issues such as itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, and persistent post-nasal drip.

Asthma

People who suffer from asthma often have a difficult time with pollen. If they are reactive to pollen, the allergy symptoms can often trigger severe asthmatic reactions such as respiratory congestion, wheezing, and even severe shortness of breath.

How to reduce pollen in the home

Accept up front that all the pollen will never be gone. The best you can do is keep it under control. Anything you can do to reduce the pollen influx will really help yourself if you are allergic, but also any allergic guests who might visit.

If you live in a rainy area, this may help as the rain will wash pollen from the air to the ground regularly. Wind simply blows pollen around, though. Limit your outdoor activities on high-pollen days, and change clothes when you go back inside.

The most important thing is to dust regularly with a damp cloth. A dry cloth just stirs up more allergens, so be sure it is damp (not dripping wet though). The same goes for a damp mop on hard floors. If you have carpeting, make sure your vacuum cleaner has a high quality HEPA filter, as this is responsible for removing the microscopic allergens that a standard filter cannot handle. Wear an industrial-grade respirator or half-mask plus goggles while dusting and vacuuming so as not to breathe in any allergens.

In addition, wash all your bedding and any laundry at least once a week. Use a clothes dryer rather than line dry to reduce pollen exposure. Keep things clean as you can. Add an allergen-impermeable cover to your mattress and your pillow if you can find them. Don't open the window as this will let the pollen in the house.

Between rounds of laundry and dusting, an air purifier will help to maintain good air quality for those allergic to pollen. Choose an air purifier designed to handle the square footage that needs cleaning.

The key to dealing with a pollen allergy is to treat your symptoms if you have a flare-up. I recommend starting a preventive daily antihistamine in the week or so preceeding the start of hay fever season. Do the best you can to manage your symptoms and stay comfortable.

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