It starts as a sneeze, perhaps an occasional cough. Then, before you can say “It’s allergy season!,” you have full-blown symptoms.
In the U.S. alone, allergic rhinitis (commonly known as hay fever) affects between 10 percent and 30 percent of all adults and up to 40 percent of children.
This year has been particularly difficult for allergy sufferers. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the first quarter of 2012 was the warmest on record for the contiguous U.S. — a record that dates back to 1895.
Warmer temperatures have caused many plants to bloom earlier, increasing the amount of pollen and making the allergy season longer and stronger than ever before.
Allergies can do more than simply cause watery eyes and nasal congestion. They can disrupt sleep and affect one's ability to focus on daily activities such as work or school.
In addition, the same substances that trigger hay fever symptoms may also cause asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness.
Outdoor factors such as pollen aren’t the only causes of allergies. Indoor allergens such as dust mites and animal dander can also trigger allergy symptoms.
People should take simple steps to educate themselves about their allergies and ways to improve their quality of life. Learn more about how to help manage your allergies.