BY ON April 7, 2011

Spring is here! I know this not because I heard peepers over the weekend, or because a single daffodil is blooming in my backyard, or because the birds are singing.  To me, spring starts when a light brush of my finger across my eyelid quickly escalates to wanting to scratch my eyeballs out.  My eyes get very itchy, goopy, puffy, and irritated (think perma-pink eye).  My throat is sore, and my nose runs for months at a time.  In some instances I lose my voice or develop a pounding headache.  I take wads of tissue to bed with me so I can blow my nose throughout the night.  Yes, I have seasonal allergies.

I’ve never been tested for allergies, and I feel that my allergies are not severe enough for me to seek medical help.  But I’ve realized over my lifetime that I am allergic to the following:

  • pollen and overly fragrant plants like gardenias
  • dust
  • mold
  • smoke, especially cigarette smoke
  • artificial fragrances

Since I’ve diagnosed myself, I also treat myself.  I did once get eye drops, years ago, but I’ve found that no medicine works as well as simply not touching my eyes in the first place.  The best thing I can do is avoid the allergens, so I try not to stir up the dust in my house by cleaning too often, I try not to let dish towels sit and develop a musty smell, I distance myself from smelly flowers, and I try to stay away from overly-perfumed people and smoke.  Any combination of these allergens seems to increase my irritation exponentially, so I especially try to avoid the easy ones, like fragrances in my own home or cigarette smoke.  (Fortunately for me, few public places in Connecticut allow smoking anymore.)

I’ve made an effort to keep my son away from these potential allergens, too, since I’m not yet sure if he’s inherited my allergies. Studies have linked both indoor and outdoor air pollution to infant deaths from respiratory complications and SIDS.  Exposure to cigarette smoke  is a major risk factor for SIDS, as babies are 3.5 times more likely to die of SIDS if both parents smoke than if neither parent smokes.

Unfortunately, there are some things that I can’t control.  People who have allergies or asthma are especially vulnerable to atmospheric pollution, so it’s just another reason for me to fight for clean air.

Do you have allergies or asthma? How do you cope with them?

TOPICS: Asthma, Pollution

  • gloriap

    When we moved to the Washington, DC, area ten years ago, I had never had any allergies. Suddenly, in the spring, I would be hit with a high fever and bad flu-like symptoms, followed by continuing extreme congestion and itchy, watery eyes. I’d go running to the doctor, thinking I had brain cancer or something, only to be told it was all allergies. Seems like my body has finally adjusted – this year, I’m just a little sniffly. Allergies are no joke. Wonder how much they cost the economy in lost productivity.

  • GLC

    Of the five people in my household, two have well known allergies– my husband is allergic to everything. My high school senior is allergic to cats and pollen. But the rest of us are also suffering right now from the onset of Spring in Houston, where the pollen in the air is so thick that you can see it as a yellow haze that settles on cars and lawn furniture and even your pets if they sit still long enough.

    We are all itchy and sneezy and clearing our throats. My son’s cough is back. It’s nasty and as happy as we are that the Winter is over…and that daylight savings time is upon us, we are paying for it with our health. I consider this time an empathy- check. It’s the time of year most everyone gets to experience what allergy sufferers have to grapple with all of the time. I am nicer to my husband now that I am reminded! 🙂

  • I wish people who wear strong perfumes would realize how much these artificial scents effect some people with allergies, actually interfering with their breathing.

    I really think it’s a matter of education because I doubt that those who are in the habit of wearing strong scents would never intentionally want to hurt those around them. Thanks for spreading the word and for your commonsense approaches to controlling allergens.