Tuesday, September 25

The Quad: Tips for surviving seasonal allergies this spring


Spring is in the air, meaning allergies are here.
(Creative Commons photo by Matt Batchelor via flickr)

Spring is in the air, meaning allergies are here. (Creative Commons photo by Matt Batchelor via flickr)


Graduation pictures, blistering hot weather and Memorial Day trips to Las Vegas: There’s a lot going on in spring quarter, but not all of it is enjoyable. Warm weather means lots of blooming flowers, which in turn result in pollen allergies. Keeping your sanity in check while battling life at UCLA is hard enough as it is without having to worry about itchy eyes and sneezing fits. Here we’ve debunked some popular myths and included some useful tips to keep in mind the next time seasonal allergies begin to strike.

1. Nasal rinse: Though this particular method of relieving your symptoms isn’t extremely pleasant, a saltwater nasal rinse is what some people use to get rid of congestion. This can flush mucus out of your nose as well as other bacteria and particles that are known to cause inflammation.

However, there are many risks associated with nasal rinses. For example, neti pots used for nasal rinses put people at a risk of contracting various infections. If tap water is used for the rinses, there is a risk of contracting a number of diseases. There have been two reports of death by encephalitis, a brain infection that is caused by a deadly amoeba that lingers in river and lake water. Researchers have also concluded that repeated use of nasal rinses is not a good idea, as over time the practice can remove beneficial microbial agents from the nose.

2. Keep dorm windows closed: After a rainy winter quarter, it’s tempting to open your windows and bring some fresh air into your stuffy dorm. Unfortunately, this is also an easy way for pollen to enter your living space. Keeping windows closed and limiting your exposure to pollen is an easy way to alleviate your symptoms.

Wind-pollinated plants can produce pollen that travels easily. This pollen is airy and lightweight and can blow into your room through an open window. Direct contact with pollen can activate the production of histamines which in turn cause allergy symptoms.

3. Pollen allergy medication: Although the most effective pollen allergy medication may differ from person to person, seasonal allergy drugs contain antihistamines, which are effective at quelling allergy symptoms. Antihistamines help block histamine release, which are produced by the immune system when a foreign object, such as pollen, enters the body. Histamines cause inflammation, which lead to typical allergy symptoms.

4. Shower frequently: After a long day of class, all you want to do is come back to your room and lay in bed. But during allergy season, that’s probably the worst thing you can do to yourself. As mentioned before, wind-pollinated plants produce pollen that is lightweight. This pollen tends to get into your clothing and hair when you’re walking around outdoors, so when you come back to your room it’s very important that you shower. If it gets into places like your bed, you may experience symptoms at night, making it hard to sleep.

5. Debunking the local honey myth: A popular myth with pollen allergies is that eating local honey will help you build up a tolerance to pollen. Some believe that since the flower pollen in honey is an allergen, ingesting the honey over time can help people build up a tolerance to pollen. But according to a 2002 study, this is not actually true. Participants in the study who ate local honey did not experience any more allergy relief than the participants who did not eat local honey.

There’s no getting around allergy season. As college students, we’re extremely active and are constantly required to be on our feet. If you want to prevent seasonal allergies from slowing you down, try to keep these tips in mind. Experiment with different remedies to get a feel for what works best for you. Despite the runny noses and red eyes, spring is a season worth savoring through laying on the grass near Janss Steps, and nothing should get in the way of enjoying it.

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  • Tommy Ogren

    First of all, local honey has helped a great many people and is safe, inexpensive, and doesn’t have the bad side effects of allergy meds.
    I’d think it is time that the landscaping at UCLA became allergy-friendly; right now it is anything but. It might be time for UCLA students who suffer from allergies to take a stand.
    See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OPALS_(Ogren_Plant_Allergy_Scale)