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BY GEORGE: Allergies…You Could Be Making Them Worse

It’s allergy season already, and as you know, the season began way earlier than usual this year due to the very warm winter across the country. Not only that, March is looking like it may well end up being one of the warmest on record for much of the country. What you might not know, however, is many people make things worse than they have to be. There are so many types of potential irritants, plus modes of “infection,” so-to-speak (mouth, nose, touch, etc.), it’s easy to miss the potential connections of one’s behavior and its effect on health.

Many people with seasonal allergies also suffer from pollen food allergy syndrome, a cross-reaction between the similar proteins in certain types of fruits, vegetables (and some nuts) and the allergy-causing pollen. One in five people with grass allergies and as many as 70 percent of people with birch tree allergies suffer from the condition, which can make your lips tingle and swell and your mouth itch. The trick is to determine which problematic produce is causing your symptoms and then avoid eating it, (although you might be able to eat it if it’s peeled, cooked or canned). If you’re allergic to birch or alder trees, you might have a reaction to celery, cherries or apples. If you have grass allergies, tomatoes, potatoes or peaches may bother you. Usually the reaction is simply annoying and doesn’t last long. But up to 9 percent of people have reactions that affect a part of their body beyond their mouth and 1.7 percent can suffer a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock.

Using an air filter to keep your home pollen-free is a good idea, but be sure it’s the right kind. Studies show inexpensive central furnace/air conditioning filters and ionic electrostatic room cleaners aren’t helpful – and in fact the latter releases ions, which can be an irritant. Whole-house filtration systems do work, but change the filters regularly or you could be doing more harm than good. 

When your windows are open, the pollen can drift inside, settle into your carpet, furniture and car upholstery and continue to torture you. So keep your house and car windows shut during allergy season.  

Also, be sure to take allergy medications as soon as possible, hopefully before any adverse symptoms appear. This enables the body to build necessary defenses in advance.

By: George Elliott

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