Suffer from seasonal allergies? Try this secret weapon

Suffer from seasonal allergies? Try this secret weapon

Published March 29, 2022 in news.yahoo.com
By Heather L. Whitley

The start of spring often comes with celebration and a sense of renewed hope. However, if you’re one of the 19 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, you may not welcome spring with as much jubilation.

“This time of year is definitely the worst,” Neda Saraj, a Club Pilates instructor in Metro Atlanta tells Yahoo Life. “Stuffiness, constant congestion, sneezing, coughing. If it gets really bad, then my eyes get itchy, irritated and I just want to rub my eyes.” When these symptoms flare up, Saraj says she typically turns to a neti pot or over-the-counter allergy medications.

Heather L. WhitleyMarch 29, 2022·6 min read

The start of spring often comes with celebration and a sense of renewed hope. However, if you’re one of the 19 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, you may not welcome spring with as much jubilation.

“This time of year is definitely the worst,” Neda Saraj, a Club Pilates instructor in Metro Atlanta tells Yahoo Life. “Stuffiness, constant congestion, sneezing, coughing. If it gets really bad, then my eyes get itchy, irritated and I just want to rub my eyes.” When these symptoms flare up, Saraj says she typically turns to a neti pot or over-the-counter allergy medications.

Suffering from spring allergies? Here's why doctors say face masks work. (Photo: Getty)
Suffering from spring allergies? Here’s why doctors say face masks work. (Photo: Getty)

But doctors say there’s another line of defense Saraj and other allergy sufferers may have stockpiled thanks to the pandemic: face masks. Dr. Purvi Parikh is an Allergist and Immunologist at N.Y.U. Langone Health and she tells Yahoo Life, “The face masks definitely help with the airborne allergens, for the same reason they help protect you from viruses. Your nose and your mouth are covered, so you’re less likely to breathe in pollen, mold, animal dander, dust mites – all of the things that trigger allergies.”

SICK OF POLLEN? TRY THIS SECRET WEAPON

An allergy occurs when your body’s immune system overreacts to something that is normally harmless. This reaction produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E or IgE. “Those antibodies basically activate your allergy cells which then release a chemical called histamine into your body,” explains Parikh. “That can cause a whole host of problems, from itchy watery eyes, rash, it can trigger asthma attacks, and in some cases can even cause a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock.”

One of the most common allergens is the pesky pollen produced by trees, grasses and weeds. When these plant-based particles are inhaled through the mouth or nose, it can cause what’s known as allergic rhinitis or “hay fever”. Pollen particles range in size from 10 to 100 micrometers. For comparison, an N95 mask can block particles as tiny as 0.3 micrometers, making them very effective against pollen. “Similar to the viruses, an N95 is the most protective,” says Parikh. “Because they filter out 95% of particulate matter.”

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