Most people either suffer from or are close to someone who experiences allergies; statistics show that over 40% of the world’s population suffer from some form of allergy. Simply put, an allergy happens when a person’s immune system sees a substance, known as allergens, as harmful and overreacts to it. When someone experiences allergies, their immune system produces an immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibody.
The Testing Process
Immunoglobulin was first found in 1921 by German physician Otto Prausnitz and his assistant, gynecologist Heinz Kustner. Their test, the Prausnitz–Kustner test, or PK for short, was the go-to test to gauge if a person had an allergic reaction to a specific antigen – a toxin that is capable of stimulating an immune response. The breakthrough occurred after Kustner admitted that he developed symptoms after eating fish; Prausnitz then took Kustner’s serum and injected it into his abdominal skin. Prausnitz ate some fish and replicated similar symptoms to Kustner around the area he was injected.
Suppose the subject being tested for an allergy has created antibodies for the antigen. This will cause a local reaction in the non-allergic person when the antibodies mix with the antigen. This demonstrates a hypersensitivity reaction, and the tested patient’s allergic reaction to the injected antigen is confirmed. Subsequent tests are conducted by having the serum of a suspected allergic person injected between the epidermis and the hypodermis of an unaffected person. Then, the suspected triggering antigens are injected into the unaffected person some 24 to 48 days later.
If the substance was confirmed as responsible for hypersensitivity reactions, the allergic reaction to the injected antigen is validated for the person being tested. This is an unsafe method, as it involves blood mixing between two individuals, which could become a conduit for blood-borne diseases. Thankfully, science has progressed enough for most people to conduct an at-home allergy test. This is especially helpful during the pollen season.
Pollen is one of the more common causes of allergies, especially during the spring and summer seasons. It can be frustrating to deal with as it finds its way into the eyes, noses, and lungs of nearly everyone. Constant sneezing and coughing might be the worst allergic reaction a person could have; however, that could still be an inconvenience.
There are a few non-medicinal ways to see through any particularly bad seasonal conditions. If the pollen count is high, keep the windows and doors closed to protect your indoor air. Pollen counts were created to measure how much pollen is in the air on a given day. Pollen count typically covers a significantly large area since pollen is airborne and is measured by grains of pollen per cubic meter. Pollen counts vary with the weather and location, so pollen allergies differ dramatically from person to person. But what happens after finding out they might be allergic? What are the ways a person could ease their allergy symptoms?
How Can A Person Ease Their Pollen Allergy Symptoms?
- To stem the invasion of pollen, special HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters could be installed on a home’s air conditioning unit, which should help cut down a person’s exposure to pollen.
- Even though pollen is harmless, a person’s immune system might identify it as dangerous, thus overreacting to its presence within the body. After a bad reaction, a person could hold their head over a warm bowl or sink full of water and place a towel over their head to trap the steam. This is a simple and effective way to ease any airways blocked by excess mucus, allowing a person to breathe more easily.
- A person is sometimes genetically predisposed to be affected by pollen allergy symptoms. If that is the case, steps must be taken to avoid inhaling pollen at all costs; this is where a good mask could come in handy. Over the past few years, the world has gotten a crash course on how effective a mask can be when dealing with airborne particles during the Coronavirus pandemic. So, there is no reason for a person who is ordinarily susceptible to pollen not to wear a mask during the seasons when the pollen count is exceptionally high. An N95 respirator mask is said to be able to block 95% of possible pollen particles, making it quite the deterrent.
- If pollen has made its way into the nasal cavity, try a saline nasal rinse, which clears the nasal membranes of the pollen to ease the inflammation-induced congestion. Gargling with salt water should ease congestion around the throat area.
- Speaking of nasal membranes and cavities, anyone who might be suffering from stuffiness caused by allergies should consider acupuncture treatment. There are theories that acupuncture may help control the number of cytokines, which are inflammatory proteins released during an allergic reaction. The jury is still out on acupuncture’s overall effectiveness, but it can supplement the treatments a person has to ensure with their seasonal pollen allergies.
- Essential oils are another excellent way to open nasal membranes during pollen allergy season. Menthol-based essential oils work best at clearing up sinuses; peppermint, spearmint, and eucalyptus are oils that could be used throughout the day. A person could simply twist the cap off a bottle and smell the oil, or get an essential oil diffuser so the smell fills the room of their choice.
- Finally, if a person has been made aware of their allergic susceptibility to high pollen count, the onus should be on them to do some work on their bodies to resist such a threat to their wellbeing. Consider eating more fruits and vegetables, especially ones filled with vitamin C. Most doctors recommend around 2,000 milligrams per day, around a couple of cups of orange juice with a generous serving of broccoli to ward off pollen allergy symptoms. Vitamin C acts as a natural antihistamine by reducing the amount of histamine the body produces in response to an allergen. This will help reduce allergy irritation symptoms like congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes.
While there is no way to eliminate pollen from the environment completely, there are ways to mitigate some of the effects pollen allergies have on a person’s body. As the season progresses, these tips will be more and more pertinent for anyone to look into for themselves and their family.