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Spring allergies are not to be sniffed at

SPRING is a delightful time for most people with flowers and trees blooming, bringing fragrant scents and wonderful colors to the world. But for some it is a time of irritation. Fei Lai smells the roses The arrival of spring brings fragrant, blooming trees and lush green grasses. Peach flowers, magnolia and rape flowers bring color and scent to our lives.

It is the time when people get out, trying to get closer to nature.

However, those tiny pollen particles being released from trees, weeds and grasses can cause sneezing, itching and watery eyes, runny noses and wheezing for people with pollen allergies.

Zheng Jie, director of Ruijin Hospital's Dermatology Department, reminds allergy sufferers that they should not touch flowers or trees and are better off treating it as a feast for the eyes only.

Pollens are the tiny powdery grains released from flowering plants. They are carried by the wind or insects, and serve to cross-pollinate other plants of the same type for reproduction.

"When pollen is present in the air, it can land in the eyes, nose, lungs or skin and begin an allergic reaction," Zheng says. "Symptoms may include allergic rhinitis (hay fever), allergic conjunctivitis (eye allergies) and allergic asthma if it is serious."

It is a seasonal allergy and flares up in spring, unlike the perennial allergies, which are usually present the year round such as household dust mites.

Zheng has some advice for allergy sufferers on how to avoid pollen exposure and how to control their condition.

Unlike pet dander and dust mites, it is difficult to avoid exposure to pollen, because it is present in the air.

When indoors, allergy sufferers are advised to keep windows closed to prevent pollen from drifting inside.

"It is wise to stay indoors when the pollen count is reported to be high and on windy days when pollen may be present in higher amounts in the air," Zheng suggests. "One may take a vacation during the peak pollen season to a more pollen-free area, such as the beach or sea."

Wearing glasses or sunglasses outdoors can help protect eyes from pollen. Wearing light-colored clothes with long sleeves can reduce the skin's direct contact with air. Keeping car windows closed while traveling helps as well.

Washing hands whenever you come indoors will help remove pollen. Bedding and clothing should be dried by machine where possible - pollen can settle on laundry if it is hung outside to dry.

For those with asthma or allergies to pollen, Zheng says they should carry anti-allergy medicine including nasal sprays and eye drops to control and treat the symptoms.

"An allergist can help determine if you have seasonal allergies and which type of pollen affects you," Zheng says. "This is accomplished through allergy testing, which usually involves skin tests or a blood test. Allergy testing is needed if you are interested in getting allergy shots."

Spring comes with cheer and is a celebration of the renewal of nature. To enjoy this wonderful time of the year, allergy sufferers do need to keep an eye on the air, which is filled with more than beauty.


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