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Spring Allergies and Asthma

Dealing With Seasonal Asthma & Allergies in the Springtime


Updated: September 3, 2008

Flowering, blooming trees in the springtime produce billions of pollen spores to bring misery to spring alleries and asthma sufferers

Flowering, blooming trees in the springtime produce billions of pollen spores to bring misery to spring alleries and asthma sufferers

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People who have spring allergies and asthma often enjoy a short respite during the cold months when symptoms abate and they can breathe easy, or easier, at least. As the weather begins to warm and trees begin to bloom and sprout leaves, though, things change. Before you know it, you're sneezing, wheezing and coughing once again. Spring allergies have just begun.

Some allergies and asthma produce problems year round, because they are triggered by substances found in the everyday living environment. You may find that your symptoms get worse every spring. Some people, though, are lucky enough to have more seasonal allergies and asthma. Spring allergies are sometimes called "hayfever," although they aren't caused by hay and don't result in a fever. They are, however, usually the outdoor type of allergies, meaning that the triggers are commonly found outdoors, rather than indoors.

Common symptoms of spring allergies can include:

Kids with asthma and allergies may also have what are known as the allergic salute, where they rub their noses upward because of itching and have allergic shiners, which are dark circles under the eyes caused by nasal congestion. These are all just the typical symptoms of allergies and asthma. Nothing is different in the spring, except that if you are allergic to spring allergens, your symptoms may increase.

Common Spring Allergens or Triggers

Spring begins at different times in different parts of the United States and other countries, depending on climate and location. When deciduous trees start to wake up from their "winter's sleep," though, spring allergies begin. The most common spring allergens, or triggers, are tree pollens. Pollen are tiny, egg-shaped male cells found in flowering plants. You may know pollen better as the tiny, powdery granules that plants use during the fertilization process. The size of a typical pollen spore is smaller in diameter than a human hair.

Many different kinds of trees can produce pollen that triggers allergies and asthma symptoms. The most common trees that do so are:

  • Ash
  • Birch
  • Cypress
  • Elm
  • Hickory
  • Maple
  • Oak
  • Poplar
  • Sycamore
  • Walnut
  • Western Red Cedar

In the later spring, grass pollens may also become a factor. Common grass allergens include:

  • Bermuda grass
  • Bluegrass
  • Orchard grass
  • Red top grass
  • Sweet vernal grass
  • Timothy grass

The trees and grasses mentioned above may or may not all exist in your local area. If any of them do, though, and you are sensitive to their pollens, then you will have spring allergies and asthma symptoms.

Influencing Factors

The type of pollen that triggers allergies is a lightweight airborne powder. So it is easily spread far and wide on windy days. When it is rainy, however, the rain washes the pollen spores away and pollen counts tend to be lower, which brings relief from symptoms.

How Spring Allergies and Asthma Are Diagnosed

If you notice that your asthma and allergy symptoms crop up — or worsen — during the spring when the world begins to get greener, there's a good chance that you have spring allergies. To find out for sure, make an appointment to see your doctor. Your doctor may decide to refer you to an allergist, who can do formal allergy testing to find out exactly what you may be allergic to.
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