Why Allergies Are Called Hay Fever & Other Interesting Allergy Facts
They say what you don’t know can’t hurt you … but in the case of hay fever and spring allergies, what you don’t know can actually cause you misery.
Allergist, Richard Weber, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) says, “Relief might seem impossible as pollen counts soar, but by knowing what triggers symptoms and how to avoid those allergens, sufferers can lead healthy, active lifestyles with minimal side effects.” Which is great news!
However, part of the “knowing” includes not only identifying what triggers your symptoms, but also informing yourself of allergy facts and figures. This allows you to have the best plan for fighting your spring allergies and leading that healthy, outdoor lifestyle you want!
What You Don’t Know … But Should!
Spring allergies bring enough symptoms and suffering on their own—you don’t want what you don’t know to add to that. So, here are some unknown—and somewhat surprising—spring allergy facts to know!
- Pollen Multiplication Effect. No, we’re not talking about the simple mathematical operation but the fact that every year is labeled the “worst year” for allergy symptoms. However, there could be some truth to that – pollen really could be multiplying! According to a recent study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, “pollen counts slowly rise annually and are expected to double by the year 2040.” This increase is due to multiple factors such as economic growth, temperature, human-induced changes (increased CO2 levels) and global environment sustainability.
- Home is Where the Hay Fever Is. You may love and be devoted to where you live, but where you live can actually determine the severity of symptoms and suffering you feel. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) named McAllen, TX as the 2019 Spring Allergy Capital. You can see the top 32 below:
- Don’t Wait to Treat Until It’s Too Late. Don’t wait until you start experiencing your allergy symptoms to do something about it. While it might not be “too late” at that point, it could be less effective in reducing your symptoms. Allergists recommend you start treatment two weeks before your symptoms usually appear. This isn’t a cure for spring allergies, but it can help reduce the severity and symptoms you feel!
- The Early Spring Brings the Allergy. Mild winters bring about the early release of pollen from certain trees. When allergy sufferers are exposed to this pollen, their immune systems begin reacting to the allergens. This means that symptoms will start earlier and possibly last longer, even if temperatures cool down at some point. If warmer temperatures are on the horizon, begin taking your medication/treatment now to best prepare yourself!
- April Showers Bring… While they certainly bring May flowers, they also, unfortunately, bring more symptoms for spring allergy sufferers. This is because rain can promote plant and pollen growth while wind can stir that pollen into the air. This increasing the exposure to allergens and intensifying symptoms. Another important note is that allergists recommend spring allergy sufferers know which pollen they are sensitive to in order to check pollen counts for the day and plan accordingly. In general, spring and summer allergies come from tree and grass pollen which have highest levels in the evening. Late summer and early fall bring about ragweed pollen season, and these levels are the highest in the morning.
- Traveling Pollen. You might think that traveling to new cities or across state lines would get you away from pollen in your area. However, the truth is pollen can travel too. For hundreds of miles. According to Vaughn Bryant, a palynologist from Texas A&M, “sometimes pollen can travel miles, and, in some cases, they have found [pollen] even 1000 or 2000 miles away from its source.
Other Interesting Allergy Facts
Hopefully some of those facts above gave you new information and insight into your spring allergies. There is a lot to learn each season, but staying up to date can be your best bet for planning and preparing for spring allergies.
But what about other interesting allergy facts? Like, have you ever wondered why allergies are commonly referred to as “hay fever,” when you don’t get a fever and there’s no hay around in the spring?
Next, we’re going to explore some interesting facts about the diseases that are behind so many itchy eyes and runny noses.
- “Hay fever” is a bad nickname. The term “hay fever” came about before the medical community understood the cause of allergic rhinitis, a reaction to the fine pollen released into the air by flowering trees and plants. Because symptoms would strike during the fall hay harvest, when these pollens would be in the air, the condition was called hay fever. While it’s possible to be allergic to hay, usually people with hay fever are allergic to the pollen of grasses, trees and weeds.
- Allergies are widespread – and expensive. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergy symptoms each year, ranking allergies as the sixth-leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. It’s estimated that Americans spend more than $18 billion annually on allergy-related treatments.
- You can’t escape ragweed. Ragweed is the most common weed pollen allergy, affecting an estimated 10-20 percent of Americans, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation. Just one ragweed plant can produce one billion grains of pollen! Grains of ragweed pollen are so lightweight they can travel up to 400 miles on the wind.
- May Flowers Don’t Bring Allergies. While April showers bring May flowers, usually May flowers do not bring allergies. In fact, according to Dr. Jay Portnoy, director of the Division of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at Children’s Mercy, Kansas City, it’s rare that flower pollen would worsen your spring allergy symptoms. He says, “You’re not allergic to flowers, you’re allergic to weeds, grasses or trees.” Flower pollen is heavy and doesn’t become airborne like the pollen from trees, grasses and weeds. In addition, flowers don’t produce as much pollen because they rely on insects to transport it.
- Your sinus troubles could stem from allergies. The risk for chronic sinus infections is higher if you have allergies. This is because the nasal inflammation caused by seasonal allergies can block sinus drainage, creating a place for bacteria to grow and cause infection.
- There is no cure for allergies. Once you develop an allergy, treatment options include avoidance, limiting exposure to the allergen that triggers your symptoms, medication and the seasonal allergy shot (immunotherapy).
Get Allergy Relief at RediClinic
We know that during spring season, hay fever can make life annoying or difficult. However, managing uncomfortable symptoms can be as simple as visiting your nearest RediClinic!
At RediClinic, a board-certified clinician will evaluate symptoms to determine if your issues are related to allergies or an infection. Our clinicians can recommend over-the-counter products or prescribe allergy medications and/or steroid injections (if appropriate) to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms.
Don’t delay seeking treatment until the April showers bring May flowers. While knowledge is power and learning interesting facts about hay fever and seasonal allergies is fun, planning for allergy season is your best weapon for getting ahead of this spring allergy season.
Find a clinic near you and make an online appointment to be seen same-day or next-day!