Allergies - Pollen and Mold Allergy
During much of the year, plants produce pollen. Mold knows no season and may occur anytime. Plants release pollen in order to fertilize other plants. Not all of those particles reach their intended targets. Some enter the airways of people. The same goes for mold, which can find its way into the nose or mouth through many routes.
The proteins in these plant substances are viewed by the body as foreign invaders. They stimulate the immune system to release antibodies that cause the body to produce histamine. Overproduction leads to well known allergy symptoms. Asthma and wheezing, allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis (inflammations of the nose and eyelid membranes, respectively), and other symptoms are a common result.
Since pollen grains can be carried by the wind for hundreds of miles, getting away from the area isn't usually an option. Molds can build up in any humid area of the house. Both these common allergens can't be eliminated from the overall environment. But they can be minimized in your environment and, more specifically, your body.
Since pollen levels vary during the day, changing your habits can help control the level of exposure. They're likely to be higher in the early morning, from about 5 am - 10 am. They're also affected by humidity levels. Rain or even high humidity can keep pollen down closer to the ground. They don't fly as well in moist, heavy air.
Keeping the windows closed can help, since it prevents the pollen grains from wafting in through the screens. Air conditioners fitted with good filters are preferable to window or attic fans for cooling. Drying clothes outdoors leads to increased pollen indoors, since the grains get attached to the clothing which then may come into close contact with the nose and mouth.
Mold grows in a humid environment. While humidity helps keep the level of pollen down outdoors, it increases mold inside. An air conditioner/dehumidifier is helpful. Regular cleaning is also helpful to ensure that moisture doesn't stay on surfaces that come into contact with your hands, then the nose and mouth. Anything that gets on your hands and isn't washed off will sooner or later end up in your airways.
Keeping the bathroom and kitchen clear of mold is relatively easy with modern sprays. Be sure to cleanse your hands well after cleaning up, though. Dry the hands well after cleaning thoroughly.
When you've undertaken all reasonable preventative measures, but still have an allergic reaction, medication can come to your aid. The underlying condition isn't cured, but symptom relief can be substantial.
Antihistamines like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) are one effective treatment. They counteract the overproduction of histamine that leads to swollen nasal passages and other common symptoms. Corticosteroids are another option. They help reduce nasal inflammation and minimize excess mucous production. Overuse can lead to bad side effects, however.
For any allergic condition which persists for more than two weeks, a visit to a specialist is in order. There are no cures for allergies, but proper diagnosis, management and treatment can substantially reduce the unpleasant effects.