It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Unless you are one of the 24 million Americans in Portland and throughout the United States who suffers from allergies during the warmest months of the year. In that case, summertime is anything but easy; instead, it can be downright miserable, leading you to wish for cooler weather and a reprieve from all that pollen in the air.
What Causes Allergies?
Allergies are your immune system’s response to a perceived threat. When your body encounters germs or bacteria it deems harmful, the immune system goes on the attack, releasing antibodies – proteins designed to protect against foreign invaders. These cause the release of histamines, chemicals that are responsible for the classic allergy symptoms.
Summer Allergy Symptoms
Allergies may occur throughout the year but are especially prevalent during the summer months when trees, grasses and weeds release pollen into the air. This leads to hay fever and its resultant symptoms, which include:
- Stuffy and/or runny nose
- Itchiness in the nose and throat
- Sore throat
- Postnasal drip
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Pressure in the ears
- Allergic shiners (bluish skin beneath the eyes)
Treating Summer Allergies
The best way to treat summer allergies is to avoid the allergens that trigger your immune system’s response. This is easier said than done in Portland, where the fertile Willamette Valley – dubbed “the grass capital of the world” – is responsible for widespread allergy symptoms in people of all ages. Short of locking yourself inside your house for three months, there are other, less drastic steps you can take to treat summer allergies.
Many people turn to medications for allergy relief. Over-the-counter drugs such as brand name antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal and oral corticosteroids may be helpful. If not, your doctor can prescribe stronger medications.
If medications don’t do the trick, consider immunotherapy (allergy shots). These help your body build up a tolerance to the allergens that cause you misery, leading to long-term relief. You must commit to three or more years of treatment, but in the end, you’ll probably find it worthwhile.
The good news is, you have options! If you are tired of dealing with allergies and want to enjoy the summer months, which are all-too-fleeing in the Pacific Northwest, your Portland ear, nose and throat provider can help you find relief.