Tips for Spring Allergies
Dr. Yael Levy, Deputy Director of the Institute of Immunology and Allergy at Schneider Children’s, notes that Spring is a time when the blossoming of various plants and flowers causes children and adults who suffer from dust and pollen allergies to have red and watery eyes, sneezing bouts and itchy and runny noses, and sometimes, difficulty in breathing and wheezing. They suffer from seasonal allergic nose runs, also called seasonal asthma or hayfever.
Pollen from different plants (mainly those without colorful flowers pollinated by insects) are carried by wind in the warmer and drier atmosphere. As a result of the contact between pollen in the air and mucus in the nose and air passages, certain cells in the mucus release a substance called histomine which causes the various allergies. Plant allergens prevalent in Israel mainly in the Spring emanate from cedars (which blossom in February), olive, pecan and date palms, plants from the grain family and others.
Those who are allergic to plant pollens in the Spring should refrain from nature hikes during blossoming (for example where there are many olive trees), and ensure that car windows are closed while traveling through these areas. Those who reside in these areas should close the windows at home where possible, and not hang washing outside.
The Allergy Clinic at Schneider Children’s conducts various allergy tests on the skin of the hands. Treatment includes medications such as oral antihistamines, nasal sprays and eye drops, with inhalations where needed. Longer-term care includes desensitization (reducing the child’s sensitivity to a known allergen). The allergen is injected in small and concentrated doses that is gradually increased every week so that the immune system will produce the required immune reaction against the allergen, and thus reduce the production of antibodies responsible for the nose’s allergic reaction.