Allergy Season and the Risk of Respiratory Infections

Don’t let allergies turn into something more serious!

Antibiotic Intervention Secondary Image

It’s that time of year. The weather is lovely, the flowers are in bloom, the birds are chirping, and the tissues are flying? Summer’s around the corner, and Spring is certainly in the air, but so are the allergens.

With all the increased activity in springtime, both from us and in nature, the pollen, mold, dust, dander, and dirt all get stirred up too. This not only exacerbates allergies but can lead to respiratory infections too – unless we take precautions.

So let’s look at why springtime allergies can be a double whammy for your respiratory health.

 

The Allergy Season

Spring through Fall are notorious for their higher pollen counts, which can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. Common symptoms include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and coughing. These symptoms occur when the immune system overreacts to the presence of pollen, releasing chemicals like histamine that cause inflammation and irritation.

 

| According to the CDC 25.7% of adults, and 18.9% of children in the U.S. suffer from seasonal allergies. |

 

The Link to Respiratory Infections:

One of the lesser-known effects of springtime allergies is their potential to increase the risk of respiratory infections. The inflammation and irritation caused by allergic reactions can weaken the immune system’s ability to defend against viruses and bacteria, making individuals more susceptible to infections like the common cold and flu.

 

Drainage Difficulties:

Another way allergies put you at risk is by creating drainage issues. The constant runny nose and congestion that plague allergy sufferers are your body’s attempt to flush out irritants. However, this constant flow can actually become counterproductive. Mucus can become thick and sticky, making it harder to clear out and potentially trapping pathogens that could lead to infection.

 

What can you do to combat allergies and the risk of a respiratory infection?

 

    • Know Your Triggers: Pollen counts are a big culprit, but mold, dust mites, and even pet dander can trigger allergy symptoms. Identifying your triggers allows you to take specific steps to avoid them. Check the daily pollen count before you decide to spend time outdoors.
    • Medications are Your Friend: Over-the-counter antihistamines and nasal corticosteroids can significantly reduce allergy symptoms and inflammation. Consult  your doctor about the best option for you. And if a respiratory infection does develop then there are medications to treat and shorten those infections.
    • Be Proactive: Start taking allergy medication before symptoms even appear. This helps prevent the inflammation that makes you more susceptible to infection.
    • Minimize Exposure: Stay indoors on high pollen count days, keep windows closed, and shower after spending time outdoors.
    • Boost Your Defenses: Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and manage stress – all these factors contribute to a strong immune system
Antibiotic Intervention Secondary Image

 

If you have severe allergies, a higher risk of respiratory infections, or even a weakened  immune system, consider having medications on hand for both mitigating allergic reactions and treating respiratory infections.

Amoxicillin, Doxycycline, and Azithromycin are some of the most common medication for treating respiratory infections. And all 3 are included in every standard Jase Case.

So get yourself a Jase Case for some peace of mind this allergy season!

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Seasonal Allergy Relief

As we emerge from the depths of winter and attention turns to the longer days that spring presents- more time outdoors, sports, gardening, outings to lakes and local parks can fill our leisure time.

Sunny days beckon us to spending more time outside, however many suffer from seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies can make life perfectly miserable. Stuffy nose, swollen and teary eyes, clogged ears, sinus drainage, sneezing and cough add up to some allergy sufferers avoiding the benefits of being outdoors. In fact, seasonal allergies affect 19,2 million adults and 4.2 million children in the U.S.

What are seasonal allergies. And when ae they the most prevalent?

Seasonal allergies are also known as “hay fever” or seasonal allergic rhinitis. The immune system kicks into overdrive and overreacts to pollen or other substances. Symptoms happen during certain times of the year, when trees, grasses, and flowering plants  release tiny pollen particles into the air to fertilize other plants.

Spring allergies begin in February and last until the early summer. However, seasonal allergies can happen anytime, depending on where you live and what your body overreacts to.

What are common seasonal allergy symptoms?

  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes, nose and throat
  • Runny nose and eyes
  • Puffy, swollen eyes
  • Postnasal drip (drainage in the throat)
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Coughing
  • Brain fog

Some common seasonal allergens and when do they occur?

  • Tree pollen—May, June, July
  • Grass pollen—Depending on where you live – March through July
  • Ragweed- sage, mugwort, rabbit brush, etc- end of August through October
  • Mold—mostly in the fall, or in moist, warm environments and climates

How to control seasonal allergies

Environmental

Reduce your exposure to allergy triggers

  • Stay indoors on windy days during pollen season.
  • If the air in your home is humid, run a dehumidifier.
  • Remove clothes you’ve worn outside and shower to rinse pollen from your skin and hair. This is especially important after mowing lawn or working in the garden
  • Pollen can stick to sheets and towels, dry clothes inside.
  • Wear a face mask when outside.
  • Every city and area of the country has a pollen forecast. It can usually be found on weather apps on phone. In addition, your local tv or radio station may have pollen forecasts.
  • Keep doors and windows closed when pollen counts are high
  • Avoid outdoor activity in the early morning when pollen counts are highest.
  • Keep indoor air clean- portable Hepa filter devices can clear a room of allergens. These are very useful in the bedroom. Keep the unit on, even when not in the room to help keep air clean.
  • Use air conditioner in home, change filters on a regular basis
  • Damp mop all hard floor surfaces, thoroughly vacuum carpet with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter

Nonprescription medications that may help

Check with your care provider before using any over the counter or alternative treatments for allergy relief. Some over the counter medicines shouldn’t be used with high blood pressure patients, and there are interactions with any drug, over the counter or not.

Oral decongestants. Oral decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) can provide temporary relief from nasal stuffiness. Some allergy medications combine an antihistamine with a decongestant. Examples include cetirizine-pseudoephedrine (Zyrtec-D 12 Hour), fexofenadine-pseudoephedrine (Allegra-D 12 Hour Allergy and Congestion) and loratadine-pseudoephedrine (Claritin-D). Talk to your health care provider about whether the use of a decongestant is good for treating your allergy symptoms.

Oral antihistamines

Some oral antihistamines list sleepiness as a side effect (diphenhydramine and Chlorpheniramine for example. Be sure to read labels and precautions.

Antihistamines can help relieve sneezing, itching, a stuffy or runny nose, and watery eyes. Examples of oral antihistamines include loratadine (Claritin, Alavert).cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy), Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy) Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton)

Corticosteroid nasal sprays. These medications improve nasal symptoms. Examples include and triamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24 Hour). fluticasone propionate (Flonase Allergy Relief), budesonide (Rhinocort Allergy) and triamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24 Hour. These are not recommended for long term use without medical supervision.

Cromolyn sodium nasal spray (Nasachrom). decreases inflammation in the nose and reduces substances in the body that release that cause allergy symptoms.

Try some home relief remedies

Neti pot

Neti pots can rinse sinuses out, clearing allergens in nasal cavity. They have a proven track record to relieve allergy symptoms. Use saline solutions from ready made pouches or if you use water, only use distilled /sterile water.  Do not use tap water, there have been rare cases of infections from bacteria or protozoa in tap water. It may be safe to drink because stomach acid will kill pathogenic bacteria, however sinuses don’t have that protection. Be sure to thoroughly clean and air dry neti pot after use.

Raw honey, royal honey, propolis

Raw honey has been proven to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms. Start honey before allergy season before allergy season starts. Do not use in children under a year old.

Natural antihistamines are found in:

  • Stinging nettle,
  • Butterbur, a marsh plant
  • Quercetin, found in citrus fruits, grapes, apples and onions along with other fruits and vegetables
  • Bromelain, found in pineapples

Probiotics

Probiotics have been studied and have shown to relieve allergy symptoms. L Casei is a probiotic demonstrated to relieve allergy symptoms, It is found in kefir, a cultured milk product and in a lesser extent yogurts(check labels). There are other probiotics that have been researched and have positive results, however there have been mixed results.

When home remedies aren’t enough, Seek help from your healthcare provider.

If you have bad seasonal allergies, speak with your health care provider if your seasonal allergies aren’t relieved by the above methods or your symptoms are bad. They may recommend skin tests or blood tests to find out what allergens trigger your symptoms. This will enable your care provider to target which treatments are likely to work best for you.

- Brooke Lounsbury, RN

Medical Content Writer

Lifesaving Medications

Everyone should be empowered to care for themselves and their loved ones during the unexpected.

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