Today's pollen and allergy information. Please specify a U.S. location.
As a ritual, each spring summer and fall, tiny particles known as pollen are released from trees, grasses and weeds. Pollen is transported by air currents and enters human noses and throats, triggering an allergic reaction named allergic rhinitis, also known as Pollen Allergy. According to the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, a branch of the National Institute of Health, approximately 35 million Americans complain from upper respiratory symptoms related to pollen.
Not everybody is allergic to pollen. Scientists believe that some people inherit a tendency to be allergic and respond with a specific immunological reaction. In an allergic reaction, the body's immune system generates a type of antibody called immunoglobulin IgE. The antibody developed is specific for each type of pollen. ie: ragweed, oak, sagebrush, etc. Each plant has a pollenation period that is more or less the same from year to year. The length of the pollenation period is dependent on the relative length of night and day, and the geographical location. More pollen grows in the northern latitudes of North America in this time period.
Pollen count is a measure of how much pollen is in the air in a certain area at a specific time. It is expressed in grains of pollen per square meter of air collected over 24 hours. Pollen counts tend to be highest early in the morning on warm, breezy days and lowest during chilly, wet periods. Weather conditions during pollenation can effect the amount of pollen produced and its distribution.
Thunderstorms can precipitate respiratory difficulties. Initially, windy conditions that usually precede storms stir dust, mold, pollen and this may activate allergies. Later on, heavy rains tend to break pollen into small particles, allowing the smaller pieces to be inhaled deeper into the lungs and causing more significant symptoms. (Ref: Stump B. "Under the Weather? Men's Health 1999; 14(3) 124-4)
Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis:
Some people develop bronchial asthma. Asthma can be disabling and at times fatal.
Symptoms of Asthma:
People allergic to molds may complain of symptoms from spring to late fall. The season often peaks from July to late summer. Unlike pollen, the mold season may persist after the first killing frost. Snow cover lowers the outdoor mold count significantly, but does not kill the molds. In the warmest areas of the US molds persist all year and are the cause of so called Perennial allergies. Molds are fungi which reproduce by very small microscopic particles called spores (smaller than pollen). Molds grow easily when there is enough moisture, especially in moist shady areas. Mold spore counts are difficult to use as a guide for daily activities due to the considerable variability of the count in 24 hours due to the close relationship between weather changes and spore releases. It has been found that dry spore type molds release their spore during the day on dry, windy weather and wet spore types release their spores during night and need high humidity, fog or clear.
It is very important to see a doctor for respiratory illnesses that last longer than a week or two. The problem may be an allergy instead of a "cold". Skin testing and blood testing are an adjunct to the diagnosis of allergies. Prevention References
It is very important to see a doctor for respiratory illnesses that last longer than a week or two. The problem may be an allergy instead of a "cold". Skin testing and blood testing are an adjunct to the diagnosis of allergies.