Sandpaper scraping on your eyelids. Constantly running or dripping eyes. Endless itching. Violent sneezing. Chronic sniffles. Like everyone else in this boat, you dread the onset of allergy season all year. And, like everyone else, you can feel it coming a few days before the emergence of full-blown symptoms. Doctors have a fancy-sounding name for the condition: allergic conjunctivitis. You probably just call it misery, along with over half of America who suffers from at least one allergy.
Allergies are fundamentally a natural defense mechanism, as your body is doing its absolute best to prevent what it perceives as potentially harmful invaders from breaching its defenses. But what causes all these allergy problems? And is there anything you can do to minimize them each allergy season?
By far, the most common trigger for allergy sufferers is pollen. Of course, it’s necessary for plant growth and the continuation of human life on the planet - but that doesn’t make it any less horrific for allergy-sufferers.
Grass, trees, and weeds are also naturally-occurring causes of eye allergies. Those with grass allergies tend to hit peak irritation in the summer, while weed allergies tend to trigger their victims in the fall. In either case, though, the burning and itching eyes are a source of intense discomfort for allergy sufferers. Allergies like the ones discussed so far, which tend to be intense yet temporary, are known as acute allergic conjunctivitis, due to the short-lived nature of the condition.
For all of these conditions, minimizing time outdoors and investing in a good HEPA filter inside the house can help minimize symptoms.
Longer-term allergic reactions are known as chronic allergic conjunctivitis. Inside the house, pets are a primary cause - particularly cats, which are twice as likely as dogs to cause allergic symptoms. Unlike pets, a mold is an unwanted guest known to trigger allergic reactions year-round in its victims. And, like the causes above, a HEPA filter can remove a substantial portion of potential irritants from the air.
Some allergy sufferers also struggle with non-naturally-occurring triggers; smoke is a well-known cause of symptoms for many allergy sufferers; a smaller proportion of the world is also allergic to perfume. An even smaller percentage of people are allergic to specific household cleaners and detergents. For those suffering from these triggers, it’s important to practice environmental awareness and minimize any potential contact with allergy triggers. If you know, you react to a certain laundry detergent, quit using it!
And, of course, a doctor can always recommend or prescribe an antihistamine (orally or as an eye drop) designed to help you survive the onset of your allergy symptoms. Do you suffer from allergies? Comment below and let us know which time of year is the worst for you!
Dr. Travis Zigler
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