If you walk into class and notice a third of your classmates with tissue boxes on their desks and the rest of the class hovering around the garbage blowing their noses, it’s most likely the start of a dreaded time of year: allergy season. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), allergies affect more than 50 million Americans a year.
The main contributors to allergy season include trees, grass, weeds, and pollen, more commonly known as “hay fever.” Hunter Neuman (’20) says his allergies usually start around the beginning of spring and last until the beginning of summer. For Molly McGuinness (’18), allergy season is ongoing until the fall. If this epidemic usually affects you, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the predicted pollen counts. There are many different types of pollen, however, that come from trees, grass, and weeds. Just because you see a high pollen count, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be directly affected by the pollen in the air.
Symptoms of pollen allergies include sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy eyes and throat, swollen sinuses, and more. “I’m allergic to pollen and it’s annoying because when it’s a really hot day out, my eyes get very itchy,” Neuman said.
During pollen season, make sure to close your windows if pollen is an issue for your body, and use your home air conditioning to circulate fresh air instead of the outdoors. If you know your seasonal allergies are bad, make sure to buy over-the-counter antihistamines—Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra, for example—before the pollen count in the air is high and unbearable. McGuiness says she takes 24-hour Claritin to relieve some of the symptoms. “If I have a headache, I take Advil, and I use Flonase whenever I have a stuffy nose,” Neuman says. If you have severe seasonal allergies, you may even consider consulting a doctor about additional measures you can take, such as allergy shots or immunotherapy.