The Exam Room: Allergies & the Pollen Problem

In the brief hiatus between episodes, I have come down with a horrible case of allergic rhinitis, which is basically a fancy doctor way of saying hay fever. While hay fever may be a generic name for a group of symptoms such as sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes or coughing, it is a big problem and effects over 50 million Americans each year. So to get some answers, I sat down with Dr. Christina Price, a physician, researcher and instructor at the Yale School of Medicine, who knows a great deal about some very small allergens. So, c’mon, grab a kleenex and let’s join her in The Exam Room. [Upbeat Piano Music] This spring has been one of the worst pollen seasons in many years. But traditionally, tree pollen starts in March or April and the grass pollen goes through June-July and then ragweed and mold through the fall. So the post allergenic antigens are dust mites, cat, then pollen would be next. So most people see pollens and then don’t have an immune response but a certain percentage of people, they think its foreign or dangerous and they treat it like a pathogen or an infection. Your first exposure really to pollen would be in your nasal passage, right? As take in a deep breath, whatever’s in the air will be filtered through your nose and so the pollen gets trapped in your nasal passages. Pollens come in different shapes and sizes and they can be spiculated or spiny, as with other types of allergens and, even if you’re not allergic, those pollens will stick to the mucous membrane and they have these enzymes or proteases that will break down the mucous lining of your nose, of your nasal passage, and that causes inflammation and so with the introduction of the allergen there, your body could think it is dangerous. So, that’s why it’s congestion, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, some people have reactive airways so they might have asthma or wheezing or coughing and one aspect of allergies that I think people underestimate is you can be really fatigued or tired with allergies and so it really wipes you out. So, you can see how people might be confused and are not quite sure if they have a cold or have allergies. Dr. Price says, if you suffer from seasonal allergies, the first thing to try is over-the-counter medication like these, which so i don’t get in trouble with product placement I’ll call Blaritin and Clenadryl. If that doesn’t work, you can always see your doctor who can help diagnose what exactly you’re allergic to, either through a test on your skin or through your blood, and then find a good solution. Until next time for the Yale School of Medicine, I’m Noah Golden.

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