Arizona this year ranks among the top allergy hot spots in the nation.
Not surprising since we had an above average rain fall this past winter that caused an abundance of allergy-causing trees, shrubs and grass. These pollen producers can be the most bothersome, but they aren't the only culprits. Much of the outdoor pollution also is due to traffic emissions - although it tends to improve as the weather warms up and becomes breezier.
There may be some comfort in knowing you're not suffering along. According to statistics, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. Pollen in the arid Southwest is produced year-round because of the lack of a hard freeze that allows plants to bloom at any time of the year. Additionally, the Sonoran Desert extends through large areas of the Southwest, and has an assorted plant population that has been expanded significantly due to plant species from other regions of North America and the world being introduced into urban areas.
How to ease the symptoms
Now, what to do about the sniffling and sneezing, itchy nose and eyes? Today, many prescription and over-the-counter medications work very well at effectively treating allergy symptoms. The severity of the symptoms depends on whether a prescription is necessary. The ingredients you want to look for in over-the-counter medications may include antihistamines, decongestant drugs and anti-inflammatory nasal sprays and eye drops. Non-prescription antihistamines often are effective, the only downside is they usually are sedating.
Antihistamines work best for itching, sneezing and nasal discharge - nasal stuffiness responds better to decongestants such as pseudoephedrine. Also, be sure to drink enough fluids, especially water. This helps to hydrate the mucous membranes. It's good to supplement medication with limiting exposure to allergens in the home.
Allergy attacks may be produced by house dust - a mixture of particles produced from mattress, pillow and furniture stuffing that causes allergy symptoms because it also can contain mold spores, house dust mites and allergens from furry pets and cockroaches. If you can reduce house dust, it might significantly lessen the severity of allergies. The University of Arizona Health Sciences Center's Allergy and Asthma in the Southwestern United States Web site offers an abundance of information for people with these conditions. A comprehensive list of how to limit exposure to allergens in the home is available online.