Spring is the season of fertility. Flowers are in bloom, creatures of the wild celebrate their survival of the winter with the approach of mating season, and many of us prepare for the onslaught of misery that is hay fever. If you’re hoping to avoid spring allergies, it’s best to start treatments at least two weeks before the symptoms occur. Once onset occurs, it’s often too late to do much but tough it out. The sheer agony of unrelenting allergic reactions can make a person question many things, and some of those inquisitions have an answer.

But why?

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It’s a cruel joke that many are condemned to spending the spring sniffling, sneezing, and blowing their noses. The culprit, as you may know, is pollen. Knowing this, many wrongfully attribute their allergic reactions to certain types of flowers. Flowering plants, however, pollinate through attracting insects and don’t disperse their pollen into the air to terrorize your sinuses. Tree pollen, however, is the trigger for springtime allergies.

Prime suspects

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You can keep the hydrangeas and tulips around to brighten up the prospect of allergenic onslaught without much concern, but you may be wondering where to place blame. Oak, birch, and maple are the most allergenic trees. Only male trees produce pollen, so if you’re planning on allergy-friendly landscaping, it’s best to stick to females. Other entries on the list of hypoallergenic trees include cottonwood, cedar, mulberry and juniper.

Aside from tree pollen, there is one other budding creature of the spring that can lead to allergenic reactions: mold. Mold spores spread through the air as the fungi attempt to reproduce, and they cause similar symptoms to pollen allergies. If you haven’t had reactions to the aforementioned species of trees in your lifetime, then there’s a chance that you could be reacting to molds. However, allergies can develop as we age.

Snake oil

Allergies have their fair share of myths for cures and causes. One major concern is that you can build up tolerance to allergy medication, similar to antibiotics or other drugs. Fortunately, recent data indicate that no such tolerance is built up from antihistamines. So, you can start your medication early and use it often. This is a major game-changer if you avoid starting treatment early for fear of developing resistance as these medications will go a ways further than debunked remedies like eating local honey. Although delicious, scientific studies report no significant antihistamine effect from ingesting local honey as compared to a double blind placebo study. You can still put it on your toast, though.

Holding ground

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Pollen allergies can be a serious concern if you have an existing respiratory disease like asthma or bronchitis. A doctor can test for pollen allergy through a skin prick test or specific IgE blood test. If you know that you’re allergic, there are a number of precautions you can take to prevent serious reactions:

  • Limit outdoor activities
  • Keep windows closed
  • Take allergy medicine before the season begins
  • Bathe and shampoo thoroughly
  • Wear sunglasses and hats
  • Limit contact with outdoor pets
  • Wear dust masks while cutting grass and handling plant materials
  • Lower indoor humidity to prevent mold formation, and make sure to regularly clean an indoor humidifier if you have one
  • Repair roof leaks and roof gutters
  • Avoid drying clothes outdoors

While the list of precautions rains a bit on the parade of spring festivities, it is the price of clear sinuses.